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GPs vow to fight back at managers' bullying

By Helen Crump

NHS managers are using bullying tactics, including threats of suspension, to force GPs to bow to their policies, LMCs in Wales are reporting.

GPs at the annual Welsh

LMCs conference this week attacked local health boards for using 'unprofessional backdoor methods' to coerce GPs.

They vowed to fight back against the aggressive approach and called on the GPC to provide extra support.

Addressing the conference, Dr Andrew Dearden, GPC Wales chair, said bullying would 'no longer be tolerated'. He pledged to produce guidance for GPs to help them spot unacceptable behaviour by health boards.

Tactics being used by managers included finding ways to stop GPs working without suspending them and refusing to put threats in writing, he said.

Dr Dearden said some health boards conducted an 'abusive' relationship with GPs. When established procedures did not give them the result they wanted, managers went 'off road'.

He added: 'Sometimes LHBs give the impression they can do anything they want to GPs. What they are trying to do is

micro-manage practices both clinically and in a business sense and doing that through overt and covert threats.'

Dr Dearden said some GPs had either quit or taken long-term sick leave as a result of the bullying behaviour.

A GP in north Wales later told Pulse how he had been told by his health board to 'absent himself' from his practice or face suspension as a consquence of unproven allegations against him. He was then referred to the National Clinical Assessment Service.

Yet he was not allowed to attend the health board's hearing in order to defend himself.

The GP, who asked not be named, told Pulse: 'The accusations that were made were just lies. But after that I was never allowed any positive input in terms of defending myself.

'You expect the board to be supportive and to ensure everything that's done is done fairly. That's not been the case.'

The GP added: 'I've got very mixed emotions about practising in Wales at the moment, partly because of the level of patient support that's been shown but partly because of the complete lack of justice involved in everything from the very beginning to the end of this. I'm extremely angry.'

GPC Wales has urged GPs to refer bullying local health board chief executives to the Welsh Assembly and any LHB staff members engaging in unprofessional behaviour to their chief executive.

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