The more disturbing aspect here is that, despite being made aware of the shocking statistics of the doctors who died, the GMC continues to exercise little evidence of compassion in its regulatory processes. I make this statement using myself as a case in point. I am a senior neurosurgery registrar with autism who attempted suicide last year following four years of bullying (reported serially but never resolved). Having survived the suicide attempt, I reported my Postgraduate Dean to the GMC for bullying and misconduct (through abuse of position of authority) offering to provide hard evidence. The GMC dismissed my complaint within 2 weeks and instead used my complaint to subject me to an investigation claiming 'health impairment'. The fact that autism is a neurodevelopmental condition (albeit, a disabiity) but not an illness has been completely ignored by the GMC in its rush to punish my suicide attempt with an investigation in full breach of its on threshold guidance on health impairments. Doctors like me, who have had no conduct, capability or patient safety issues, who attempted to end our lives from despair need to be supported when we survive, not further punished.
Despite my autism, I progressed smoothly through my specialist training in neurosurgery (reaching the Final Stage) until the GMC decided to investigate me last year - for having attempted suicide from four years of reported but unresolved bullying! The perpertrators of the serial and severe bullying were never held to account despite being reported (eg. GMC dismissed my complaint about my Postgraduate Dean as only 'raising a conduct issue' of bullying, but not serious enough to merit a fitness to practise investigation. My isolated contextual suicide attempt borne out of despair (being bullied by the very doctors charged with supporting me) was then used to justify subjecting me to an investigation in breach of their own threshold guidance. I don't know how many other doctors who survived suicide attempts have found themselves in my shoes - surviving only to be dragged through the added psychological trauma of an unfair GMC investigation despite being on sick leave. Internal review aside, I think my case alone is testament that there is no empathy, remorse or compassion being afforded by the GMC even after being alerted to all the lives lost (ie. the 96 doctors).
As a trainee, I reported my Postgraduate Dean for bullying me while I was on sick leave awaiting treatment. My call to the GMC Confidential Helpline was triaged by the Enquiries Team as raising a conduct issue about the Postgraduate Dean that the GMC did not consider merited investigation. Instead my call was then used by the GMC to justify an investigation into my practise citing health grounds!!! Did my status as a trainee and my Postgraduate Dean's status as a Responsible Officer, have bearing on this deferential processing?
The deferential and inconsistent triage process recognised in the Professional Standard Authority's Audit Report last year on the GMC, is clearly an ongoing problem. The key information required is the demographic data of the doctors on whom complaints are closed at enquiries stage (ie. not triaged on to Stream 1 or Stream 2) and whether their status/position/influence has any bearing on the triage process. Also, it remains unclear what reproducible guidelines are issued to members of the triage team in relation to identifying vexatious complaints.