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GP suspended after secretly filming CQC inspections

A GP has been suspended for two months after covertly filming CQC inspections and posting them online.

Dr Hendrik Beerstecher, from Canterbury Road Surgery Practice in Kent, was accused of misconduct after he recorded a CQC inspection at his practice in 2016 and then failed to take it down when asked.

A tribunal was held by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in November, which concluded that Dr Beerstecher be suspended for two months as there was a ‘real risk’ that he would repeat his misconduct.

The tribunal heard that Dr Beerstecher published the recordings on the practice website alongside ‘offensive and critical’ comments, according to the GMC representative. This included provocative headings on CQC inspection documents, such as ‘boohoo’, ‘secrets’ and ‘orchestrated smear’.

The GMC said this behaviour was not in the interests of keeping his patients well looked after, but instead was ‘self-facing, motivated by his need to rally patients for his own cause’.

Dr Beerstecher claimed the comments on the website were meant to be humorous, and despite objections to his recordings, the CQC had since allowed subsequent inspections to be recorded.

However, the tribunal heard that in November 2018, Dr Beerstecher’s practice website was updated with comments justifying the recordings.

These said: ‘A lot of accusations have been levelled at the doctor, this is the reason for the audio recordings of consultations, to avoid further false accusations.’

The tribunal panel concluded that though Dr Beerstecher had a right to freedom of speech, his actions in refusing to take down the recorded material when asked demonstrated a ‘lack of insight and clarity’. It also found the commentary to be ‘offensive, ill-judged and inappropriate’.

MPTS tribunal chair, Kim Parsons, said: ‘The tribunal is of the view that Dr Beerstecher continues to fail to consider the impact his actions may have on the individuals affected, patients and the wider public confidence in the profession.’

‘The tribunal considers that there is a real risk of Dr Beerstecher repeating his misconduct, particularly in circumstances where his view differs from those involved in the regulatory process of where he considers himself or his practice under threat.’

CQC deputy inspector of general practice Ruth Rankine said: 'Our staff are dedicated to making sure that people get safe, compassionate and high-quality healthcare.

'This was a very difficult and upsetting experience for our inspection team who should be able to do their job of regulating and inspecting general practice without experiencing this type of treatment by medical professionals.'

Readers' comments (59)

  • Suspension a totally unjustified sanction - whatever one feels about the rights or wrongs of this doctor's actions.

    Breaking a butterfly upon a wheel?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Only reminds me of a tame version of ‘yellow vest’ protests or movement ( depends on the angle you look at that), gilets jaunes .
    Of course , a movement could be hijacked and lost its original meaning. But the buck always goes back to those holding the authority ( with regulatory power in our case ).
    Three feet of deep frozen ice is not down to one day cold(冰封三尺非一日之寒). If a ruler continues to ignore the sentiments and feelings of the people he/rules, the same story ending keep repeating itself in history.
    Sympathy clearly only goes to Dr HB in this case while CQC can only ask itself introspectively the question , ‘Why did happen under our watch right now?’

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  • Difficult and upsetting experience for the inspection team? Might the CQC inspection team need "resilience training" more than GPs allegedly do? A truly transparent and honest regulatory process would have nothing to fear from being recorded.

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  • Dear Dr Hendrik Beerstecher, Please stand up for election of RCGP or BMA and we, thousands of grass root GPs offer our full suppport. You can beat all the current useless post holders of BMA or RCGP. Sir, Please stand up for election of RCGP or BMA. I will vote first for you.

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  • The GMC are a disgrace. Their decision I have no doubt due to him having a foreign sounding Surname.
    The CQC do nothing but harm.

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  • For clarification: I made a video of my presentation to the CQC in March 2016. I published this on youtube in November 2016 after the CQC rated the practice inadequate.

    I had also audio recorded the rest of the day because of bitter experience with NCAS and NHS England taught me there are elements that cannot be trusted.

    Requests for recording meetings and procedures were always turned down, followed by false minutes and reports. Audio recordings cured my disability of ‘mishearing’ and ‘misunderstanding’ the contents of meetings and assessments. Against my own beliefs I had to make the decision in 2014 that I could not continue to place my trust in unscrupulous elements in the NHS and record meetings without asking for permission.

    The video recorder used to tape my presentation to the CQC was in a cupboard to try and get above the audience, not hidden but also not in plain view. The same place as the 2017 presentation. There is no law against taping your own presentation in your own building. In the MPTS building a few weeks ago I did not notice for 8 days there were smoke glass domes in the corridors, presumably making covert video recordings of me without anyone asking or pointing them out. The photo's published in the daily mail were taken covertly as I was crossing the street. No problem.

    I underwent an assessment by the GMC in 2015, and the GMC covertly audio recorded the visitors (including two doctors) and my staff giving ‘third party interviews’ in our surgery, maybe they also covertly audio recorded other parts of the assessment, I do not know. So there is no problem with covertly audio recording meetings, even if you are in someone else's property.

    In 2016 the CQC failed to admit (both in email and on the 2016 video) that the inspection was targeted. After the publication of the CQC report I made a SAR request for the CQC information and received 75 heavily redacted documents, confirming amongst other things that the inspection was targeted and instigated by NHS England. I published these on the website in January 2017 as additional evidence to challenge the inadequate rating of the practice, and expose some of the practices of the CQC. I had given the 75 files nicknames to keep them apart, which were then included in the icons on the webpage (boohoo, now this is censoring, etc).

    I think the tribunal’s finding is that I should not have published the evidence challenging the inadequate rating of the CQC in 2016 with my comments attached, so I am planning to republish after reviewing the comments and file names.

    During the 2016 inspection my manager came to my room in tears 10 minutes after the arrival of the lead inspector, as she told her that we were in breach and not licensed to provide contraceptive services straight after walking in. This was retracted later in the day. We have heard of many other practices where staff were in tears during CQC ‘visits’ and many practices where the findings and ratings do not seem to correspond. There is no consistency in the approach, and with the Chief briefing publicly against small practices, publicly justifying using gender discrimination against small practices I felt I had to take a stand.

    This came at the end of a 10 year period of repeated investigations and referrals by the local NHS England team, and without the audio recordings I made to challenge the 2014 NCAS inspection we would have been closed four years ago. It came at the end of three years of emails to CQC to try and improve their use of public data in their ‘intelligent monitoring’ reports published on the internet. I was at the end of my tether and decided to fight back against what I perceived as another unjustified inspection and another unjustified report, it happened to be the CQC coming back to inspect us for the second time, a second targeted inspection as we were in the first 500 practices after the CQC were appointed as regulator in 2013.

    I did not intend to target individuals, I do believe that representatives of organisations should accept responsibility for the organisation, just like I take responsibility for the practice and like I expect my staff to accept responsibility for any policies they enforce, or otherwise challenge me on any policies, which should be possible in an organisation (this has happened many times, and I have changed many policies thanks to input from my staff). We put our staff on the letterhead and on the website, it strikes me as odd that the CQC wants to keep staff anonymous and not accountable, I would not feel comfortable with that.

    To clarify matters I would be happy for the CQC to publish the unredacted 75 files they supplied to me so that we can all be clear about the procedures and justification of our 2016 inadequate rating. Maybe the magazines/press could request these if the CQC does not want to supply them to me.

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  • Dr Beerstecher, you are a shining light of courage, morality and professionalism to your colleagues and I suspect also to your patients.

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  • The modus operandi of the gmc(small case) is to create a climate of fear amongst 'ordinary doctors'- ie those who in normal circumstances would have little to fear from an impartial regulatory body.They perpetuate this by means of inquisitions and show trials.

    One does not need a comprehensive knowledge of history to know from whom they have copied the model.The 3 great dictators of the 20th century certainly terrorised there society's with similar tactics.

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  • Cobblers

    It turns, does it not, on whether taking and publishing a recording, video or audio, without the knowledge of some of the participants is legal. The details are not available on the MPTS website so I cannot see what the rap sheet was.

    I agree it seems that the GMC can, and do, record and then use those recordings in house. I am not aware that they are published. It may be likely that they are used for transcription and training.

    Presumably the MDO was involved. I am going to guess this is a grey area and the MDO doesn't plan to appeal or take it to court to clarify the law on the grounds of cost?

    You do still look as if you are up for a fight but might I counsel going quiet, running the practice for a few more years to top up your, and your staffs', pension and then getting the hell out of Dodge, saving your sanity and probably a fair bit of dosh too?

    Just saying, you know it makes sense. :-)

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  • Vinci Ho

    Is there anything more Pulse can do to help ?
    I suppose this is not the end of this story?

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