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GPs go forth

Burnt out GP considers legal action against NHS England after they order him to stop doing pro bono work

Exclusive A GP who was served with a breach notice by NHS England is looking at taking legal action after managers ordered him to stop doing pro bono work at substance misuse clinics and prisons in his spare time.

The LMC leader who is dealing with the case of Dr Shahzad Arif, the Doncaster GP who was served with a breach notice by NHS England after taking a period of sick leave due to stress earlier in the year, said that the ban on these extra clinics was the ‘final straw’, as the work was his form of ‘stress relief’.

Dr Dean Eggitt, Doncaster LMC chief, said that Dr Arif is looking at a possible case of discrimination, and the LMC was supporting him in gathering evidence.

Following a meeting with the NHS England area team last Friday, Dr Arif was not only told that his GP has to approve of what work he is capable volunteering for in his spare time but also that he has to be supervised in primary care work.

But Doncaster LMC chair Dr Dean Eggitt said the LMC was supporting Dr Arif - who asked Dr Eggitt to speak on his behalf - in his appeal of the breach notice he was handed earlier in the year as well as these new sanctions.

Dr Eggitt said: ‘Dr Arif is obviously quite upset and has decided that he wants to take legal action against them because they have not been supportive and they have been discriminatory in their investigation around his issues.’

According to Dr Eggitt, Dr Arif will be challenging the investigative work carried out by NHS England, which had ‘not looked at all of the evidence’ when assessing Dr Arif’s case.

He said: ‘There has been quite an escalation of this and that is really around our area team’s performance advisory group’s ability to do the investigative work properly. Had they done it properly, we don’t believe it would have escalated to this point.’

‘We support Dr Arif in his statements that NHS England’s performance advisory group has not done a thorough investigation of what is happening.’

The LMC leader also launched an attack on NHS England for trying to take away from Dr Arif the one thing that gives him stress relief.

He said: ‘Throughout all this nobody spoke to Dr Arif. During the investigation, no one sat down with him and said “why are you under stress?”, “what is the issue and how can we help?”. Had they asked him that they would have discovered that his activity in his extra clinics are stress relief.

‘When he finished the day job in the practice, tired and stressed, he goes to do these as a hobby, which he enjoys and it is a way of relaxing. So then removing them from him has actually removed his coping mechanisms, and nobody even asked him that.’

A spokesperson for NHS England said they would not comment on individual cases.

They added: ‘NHS England has a clear process in place for dealing with concerns about doctors. Details of NHS England’s ‘Responding to Concerns’ process are available on the NHS England website. 

‘As part of this process, we are able to offer GPs who may have a health problem, referral for an occupational health assessment and support. Any activity for which registration with General Medical Council (GMC) is required, may be subject to restriction in order to protect patients, the practitioner or colleagues.

‘We will always seek to support the doctor and protecting patient safety is paramount at all times.’

Readers' comments (17)

  • Good Luck - we need doctors to start taking legal action against NHSE and other quangos.

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  • Take the ***** to the ******* clenaers mate.

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  • If this was voluntary work there is no way they can call it a breach - you had no material interest and were trying to get yourself in a better mental state- more of a CBT I would say.
    The first step for NHSE should have been to sit dwon and discuss with you any issues or concerns. If they did not do it, they have no foot so stand on. This is a layman's common sense and I have faith in the Justice system which is going to look at this aspect of 'high handedness' and not consulting with 'stakeholders' which is part of their obligatory duty before taking action like breach notices.
    Thumbs up and go ahead...

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  • A mechanic works all day for a company that runs a system of quotas and quality, pushing for more and more cars to be fixed, more quickly with poor parts and no back up.
    Goes home to help a mate fix a kit car.
    Finally burns out and is off with stress, boss finds out he's fixing cars for fun.
    Sound familiar.
    True story BTW!

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  • Man now I've heard it all....

    If Pro bono work in substance misuse clinics and prisons is relaxing then traditional general practice must really suck over there!!! What's happening to my former comrades in Britain?? I'm glad this chap seems to be taking action, as it seems to me most GPs aren't and seem quite happy to be slowly boiled alive like frogs without resistance.

    Good luck to the gentleman in his case. It's a free country, or at least it used to be before I left for greener pastures abroad......

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  • Maybe those who kick other benefit claimants who try to do the best for themselves will have a better understanding after reading this

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  • 17 July 2015 8:23pm

    ????? but seriously ?????

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  • Took Early Retirement

    On the face of it this is typical NHS management behaviour- play the game as close to the foul line as you can, and hope to get away with it.

    IMO the only way to deal with it is to fight fire with fire. So how about finding out who the local NHSE Medical Director is and reporting them to the GMC, as they will have managerial responsibilities and should have been involved. If they weren't, why not? Management failure. Report to GMC and copy them in on the letter. (Of course, I hate the GMC, but whilst they are there, might as well use them.)

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  • Helpful advice for the rest of us, thanks John.

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  • Hope the LMC will cough up legal bills
    Of course we pay for NHS England to whack him
    And burnt out becomes burnt up

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