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GMC to introduce 'emotional resilience' training after finding 28 doctors under investigation committed suicide

The GMC will introduce ‘emotional resilience’ training and a national support service for doctors after an internal review found that 28 doctors committed suicide while under investigation by the regulator.

The report, Doctors who commit suicide while under GMC fitness to practise investigation, also recommends the appointment of a senior medical officer in charge of overseeing health cases and establishing a culture where doctors feel they are treated as ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

This comes after calls from former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada and the BMA among others to publish the findings of the internal review after it was launched in September last year in an effort to see if the GMC can do more to support vulnerable doctors who are undergoing fitness-to-practise investigation.

The internal review identified 114 doctors who had died during 2005-2013 inclusive and had an open and disclosed GMC case at the time of death, and found that 28 had committed suicide.

While it found that the GMC had instigated ‘significant improvements’ to its processes over the past few years, such as using more sensitive language in its letters, it said there was a perception that the GMC focuses on ‘protecting the public’ and that the doctor can become ‘marginalised’ – subsequently receiving little support or compassion.

It said there were a series of recommendations that the GMC could implement to improve processes further, including:

  • Making emotional resilience training an integral part of the medical curriculum;
  • Exposing GMC investigation staff to frontline clinical practice;
  • Supporting the establishment of a National Support Service (NSS) for doctors;
  • Reducing the number of health examiners’ reports required for health assessments;
  • Introducing case conferencing for all health and performance cases;
  • Setting out pre-qualification criteria for referrals from NHS providers and independent employers;
  • Developing a GMC employee training package to increase staff awareness of mental health issues.

Chief executive of the GMC Niall Dickson, said the GMC understands that a fitness-to-practise investigation is a ‘stressful experience’ but he is determined to make sure the regulator handles such cases with sensitivity.  

He added: ‘We know that some doctors who come into our procedures have very serious health concerns, including those who have had ideas of committing suicide. We know too that for any doctor, being investigated by the GMC is a stressful experience and very often follows other traumas in their lives. Our first duty must, of course, be to protect patients but we are determined to do everything we can to make sure we handle these cases as sensitively as possible, to ensure the doctors are being supported locally and to reduce the impact of our procedures.’

Mr Dickson said that a GMC referral will ‘always be a difficult and anxious time for the doctor involved’, but the regulator were determined to make sure they are ‘as quick, simple and as low stress as we can make them’.

He added: ‘We have made some progress on this but we have more to do, and that includes securing legal reform. We will now review our current process for dealing with doctors with health problems and identify any further changes that may be needed.’

Professor Gerada, who leads the Practitioner Health Programme (PHP), which supports doctors with mental health issues, said she ‘applauded the GMC’s openness in putting in the public domain the issue of doctors’ suicides whilst under their process’.

She added: ‘Going forward they need to continue to show their commitment to reducing the impact of fitness to practise investigations on vulnerable doctors whilst always maintaining patient safety - a substantial task.

‘Doctors are sometimes patients too and supporting vulnerable doctors is a shared responsibility. It is important that in taking forward the recommendations in the review the GMC works in partnership with everyone who has an interest in this area including the Practitioner Health Programme, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the BMA.’

The report states that many of the doctors who committed suicide during this period suffered from a mental health disorder or had drug and/or alcohol addictions.

Meanwhile, other factors which followed on from those conditions that may also have contributed to their deaths include marriage breakdown, financial hardship, and in some cases police involvement as well as the stress of being investigated by the GMC.

Last month, Professor Gerada argued that the GMC’s recent consultation on new sanctions guidance focused too much on ‘maintaining public confidence’ was about basing its decisions on ‘what the tabloid newspapers might think’. 

Related images

  • GMC plaque  Ralph Hodgson - online

Readers' comments (375)

  • Una, I think we all feel your pain and the above seems to explain a great deal of your anger. Sadly any system can be used by people as a means to their own ends or for political gain, or to get rid of people they don't like. It can also be misinterpreted by people who feel that they have a right to determine how other people behave ( sometimes with the best of intentions). When emotions run high, calm analysis can be lacking. It is a credit to the system that, as far as I know, these complaints were not in the public domain.
    The current system is unacceptably harsh on both genuine whistleblowers and doctors under investigation and we are all being sacrificed " for the good of the public".

    It raised two points though.
    First, having so publicly accused Maureen Baker, she must have a public opportunity to reply. Not to do so might be interpreted as an acceptance that what you say is true. ( expect moderation by Pulse!)
    Second, the fact that so many complaints did not get past triage and that the two that did were dismissed actually suggests that The GMC are ( far too slowly) doing a good job.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    @7:07 am thank you for reading. I wrote so that doctors out there who are currently under GMC investigation and have also been denied medicolegal support from their defence organisation, may understand the process and know they are not alone in this.

    [Comment moderated]

    Anyway, it is water under the bridge. I have resigned membership of the RCGP. Instead of supporting IMGs, I feel they have only made their professional lives harder. Without IMGs, the NHS will fail. Without the NHS, doctors may go private and join the Independent doctors federation which I chaired the GP section for a year and found them to be more supportive of GPs of all ethnicities.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    For GPs out there doing both NHS and private, I would highly recommend you join the £250 a year Independent doctors federation. During my one year as GP chair, I set up free basic life support courses, (now they have added free child protection courses), black tie Christmas dinner for GPs and spouses, and we had revolving dinner tables with consultants, free educational lectures and last on the list to set up was a subsidised weekend retreat for R&R destressing which I never got around to completing. The IDF now has an appraisor specifically for portfolio GPs who have done unconventional routes, ie military, occu health, etc. so even they can pass revalidation without multiple appraisals with different orgs. They lobby on behalf of consultants and GPs and have even taken on insurance companies and engaged the competition commissioner. The camaraderie between consultants and GPs in this org is amazing to see. And one ex St Thomas' hospital consultant reached out and offered to help a NHS GP transition into PP as he had done! This is how it should be. Colleagues supporting each other and not using the GMC as a weapon.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    PS when I was GP chair of the IDF, their accounts showed a healthy balance of £100k and no multimillion pound debts to repay...In my opinion, this makes a difference in priorities. IDF puts doctor members first.

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  • I thank you Una, I think your comments have been very enlightening.

    It also shows the type of 'characters' we have who sit on these various panels. To somehow see this as an example of the GMC at work is nonsensical, especially in the second case where the MPS refused to act. It was a political decision by the MPS which should be known more widely.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Most importantly: where can one read the report? I'd like to before deciding whether to report the GMC to the Police for corporate manslaughter. Prima facie: from the list of things they say they will now do, there seems a good case for it.

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  • Here is the report: http://bit.ly/13jz0AV

  • Took Early Retirement

    2 further things:

    1. Why the delay? This report was due out in Sept. You have heard of "burying bad news"? Consider me paranoid if you wish, but it is a well-known trick (in some areas) to publish this sort of thing as close to Christmas as possible.

    2. If only half of Una's allegations are true, it is still a terrible indictment of the system we have. As it happens, I'm much inclined to believe Una over the RCGP and GMC.

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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  • With all due respect to Dr Coles, this isn't about you. It is a damning report which shows how 28 of our colleagues WHO WERE ILL took the desperate decision to end their lives in the most devastating way possible. Doctors with alcohol/ drug / mental illness must be dealt with by a separate GMC route with a view to pastoral care rather than punishment. There but for the grace of God go any of us.

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  • @ 8.36
    I respectfully disagree..... It is about all those doctors who, under GMC investigation, have felt so desperate that they have considered ending their lives.
    Those who committed suicide cannot speak for themselves. Una survived and I applaud her for speaking out, perhaps in behalf of some of those who did not.
    It would be interesting to know how many if these doctors had mental health/drug/alcohol problems before the GMC investigation and in how many the investigation induced it?
    There is a parallel with whistleblowing here. The stress of the situation caused mental health difficulties and the person concerned is therefore dismissed as being unwell. Which comes first?

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  • Why hasn't this investigation been referred to the police?

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    I commend Margaret McCartney for challenging systems. http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g5959

    Yes, the dead cannot speak up but survivors can.

    Perhaps before choosing a medical indemnity org, a good question would be to ask what % of doctors who pay your fees, do you use your discretion to refuse to provide medicolegal support? Do you refuse more BME/IMGs?

    I think the stresses became much worse the second time around, BECAUSE I did not have medicolegal support even though I was STILL paying the medical protection society, my medicolegal defence org. They did a brilliant job the first time around but deserted me the second time around and STILL took my money! Their argument was it was not a patient complaint. So be forewarned, any GMC referral from a colleague or institution may be deemed as discretionary to refuse legal assistance.

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  • Secure environments GP

    I wish to read the full report.

    Enlightening comments so far. Very sad situation for many doctors. Let’s support them all better in future. A radical re-think and change of processes is essential now. The pendulum has swung too far the other way for too long.

    Remember a lot don't take their own lives. But their personal and family lives are destroyed. Financial hardship. Can you imagine the trauma to a family (with kids), with a doctor as the main breadwinner losing their house whilst under investigation? Then they may actually be cleared. I think we should all try understand matters better rather the fear the unknown. I cannot fully appreciate how this may feel. I suspect local resolution of issues is by far the best way.

    Locum doctors and GP partners in particular are put on a roller-coaster of what must feel like total annihilation. We should be hearing the narrative stories of more doctors who've lived to tell the tale.

    Defence organisation should defend their fee-paying doctors at least to the full total of their contribution over the years. Ie £6K x years paid to that defence organisation. No discretion for this please. Even criminals get legal defence and a fair trial, compensation if due.

    As I’ve said many time before, failing to attend to the needs of one group of patients (doctors) does nothing to benefit the wider population. Doctors living in fear doesn’t help either. Time for change.

    Can doctors please be brave enough to name themselves when making comments, why anonymous?, have the courage of your convictions and uphold your right to (carefully constructed) free speech...

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  • Here is the full report: http://bit.ly/13jz0AV

  • I am ( and will remain) anonymous because I am not as brave as Una.
    The personal backlash and bullying that you can be subjected to for speaking out, even when you are proved to be completely correct, is so awful that no sane person would risk it.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    I agree David. For as long as doctors hide behind anonymity, they may feed into the 'system'. By speaking out and identifying oneself, we end the socialist system of perpetuating fear by 'silence and snuff.'

    A late law professor once told me to go public in 2008 as he feared I may not be the only one referred to the GMC by my own college.

    I would love to hear from others who have been referred to the GMC and why post on Pulse. I only have a collection of anecdotes from IMG colleagues who have been referred for one reason or another, ranging from being in a chain of GPs who missed a cancer diagnosis (delayed) to refusing a pay cut as a salaried GP.

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  • Secure environments GP

    Una is very brave.

    I also meant more like Dr Gerada openly discussing these challenging matters, those who've heard and seen the effects on colleagues (and their families).

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    @9:06 am that in itself may be an indictment of the GMC process. Why should those who have been referred wrongly or those who have become suicidal while under GMC investigation fear repercussions for speaking the truth? When doctor victims are too fearful to speak, how do we change the system?

    Thank you John Glasspool for reading. When innocent doctors are put in a situation where they have no control over the outcome or length of a GMC ix, they may take that frustration and anger out on themselves.

    I commend the GMC for introducing this new system of triaging complaints with no evidence so that malicious complaints may be closed without putting a doctor through hell for several months. It is one way forward.

    Another would be legislature that insists any doctor paying a medical defence org must be offered medicolegal assistance with GMC complaints. There should NOT be a discretionary clause. Hospital doctors are protected by crown indemnity but GPs not.

    And any doctor who contacts the GMC case officer at risk of self harm or mental illness due to the protracted length of inital investigation, should have their case pulled and placed in a priority urgent pile for the case examiner. Chicken or the egg. Many sane doctors become depressed because of the GMC process.

    And at FTP, all doctors should be given a lawyer, even if the GMC has to pay for one themselves!

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  • Oddly, I would identify myself if a complaint had been made against me which had proved to be unfounded.
    The fact is that I was a whistleblower, proved completely correct, but suffered terribly.
    I have phoned the (ex) PCT, GMC and MPS to try to become involved in supporting those in need, both raising concerns about patient safety and suffering complaints, or to develop local policies but have not had any response. I would be happy to work with anyone who wants to move this forward.

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  • I would like to read the report into these suicides.

    Is there a link?

    I agree with a previous comment that "There is a parallel with whistleblowing here. The stress of the situation caused mental health difficulties and the person concerned is therefore dismissed as being unwell. Which comes first?"

    My experience in raising concerns and thus trying to put patients first was very difficult indeed. I am still facing the consequences for raising concerns.

    I understand Scotland is considering an approach involving "Duty of Candour". I do hope all healthcare professionals, if they raise genuine concerns, will not face what I have. It has been tough. My experience has left me fearful.

    However by speaking out I feel that I have made some difference. I would do it again as I feel raising concerns was the right thing to do.

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  • Here is the report: http://bit.ly/13jz0AV

  • Anonymous | GP Partner | 19 December 2014 8:36am

    I think Una's example is exactly what we need to know about.
    this is where real bullying is and the tragedy of the suicides can get lost without real examples

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  • When will the MPS/MDU and GMC provide warnings to patients that malicious complaints seeking compensation for groundless accusations will be met with the severest of legal responses and claims for defamation against the doctor? Even convicted criminals get legal aid when a miscarriage of justice has been proven. Shows the nature of politics, the GMC and vote buying.

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  • Vinci Ho

    I think there is a difference between .....' our first duty must , of course, be to protect patients....' and ' our first duty must , of course , be to investigate to see if GMC rules are broken....'
    This is important as a politically correct statement from ND. Otherwise , it is presumed guilty instead of innocent.

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  • To remain anonymous must be a very carefully weighed up personal decision not influenced by other's 'bravery'....they have mainly come out the other end having survived the nightmare......everyone will not and the stress of 'coming out' can exacerbate fear and stress. The suggestion of going local is debatable...it someone does not belong in the club...the bullying from networks can be horrendous and if resignation is the outcome it will be difficult to remain in the same area ..Why has the college taken so long to speak out - they have been part of the culture perpetuated by the GMC...the organisation set up by Una with those who have been through it is a better option....it takes more than promises for old dogs to change their spots. There have been some admirable people working in the GMC but how far could they possibly have a real influence apart from taking the risk of speaking out..,nobody has as yet.,including those who were given fill in jobs doing admin for FtPafter leaving university some years ago.hope that has changed.Clare G. is well intentioned but expensive short courses are not the answer for the majority.....they anyway need to be run completely independently - it took an independently run campaign by Una and others to get the issue addressed . Obviously serious issues need to be addressed but the GMC nonsence makes it as difficult for complainants...tinkering with the GMC won't be the answer it needs to be replaced. L
    Lastly but not least a huge thanks to Pulse for having the guts to run articles such as this...how much exposure would it have gained otherwise

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  • I think the whole complaints process has been pretty awful so far. Where else in the world can you just make up random complaints which may not even be true, and not get sanctions for wasting police time etc?

    Make the complaints procedure both ways. We're far too poitically correct to recognise the damage that this perverse system has on our doctors.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    I have now read the GMC report. Sadly the majority (54%) of doctor suicides were from GMC referrals by employers and NOT patients. Surely employment disputes are better handled in employment tribunals?

    And some suicides were by doctors still under GMC investigation after 5 YEARS! Although the majority ended their lives at 1-3 months, 7-12 months and 2-5 years. I don't think even criminal court cases last this long?

    Of the 114 doctor deaths, up to 28 were classified as suicides. I would like to know how the other 86 died. If they had a heart condition, surely chronic stress may have aggravated this.

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  • Although going about my usual business about 7 years ago I was reported to the GMC for treating friends and family. I was travelling with a non blood relative who was also a registered patient. Just before I left home he telephoned and asked me to bring a prescription to the airport in case he needed something for a rash.
    I fully explained this to the airport pharmacist because I wanted to prescribe Trimovate, as he had none in stock, so I chose to prescribe Dacktacort, and I thought nothing further of it other than surprise at the offhand way in which we had been dealt with, and I wondered why I felt a void in the usual professional Pharmacist to GP relationship .
    Weeks later I received a letter saying that he had telephoned the fraud hotline. He specifically commented on the way "I whipped the prescription out of my pocket" as this was an indicator of something amiss. Although no fraud was suspected this triggered an automatic referral to the GMC and in turn an investigation and automatic vetting of me by the GMC. The tone of their letters was awful and unhelpful, and speaking to them on the telephone was a negative experience.
    Despite simply going about my normal duty and doing my best under the given circumstances, it took months for the GMC to see this and officially exonerate me, and I never received an apology.
    I have always thought it possible that there might have been a malicious element motivating this on behalf of the pharmacist. Hence we need more protection from this kind of thing as it is so easy for someone to make an allegation for the wrong reasons, which can cause many waves, using a quick two minute phone call.

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  • As far as I am aware, the GMC publishes all on their website, some redacted if health matters granted, the Press pick it up, local news at least, colleagues likely to disown the doctor. You would be pretty lucky if it can remain anonymous.

    Doctors are generally well-intentioned, caring and sensitive people who "soldier on" for sake of patients out of sense of duty. 4 in 10 GPs have or are likely to burnout soon according to PULSE survey.

    Will all these GPs get referred to the GMC for potential risk to patients? Burnout goes hand in hand with Anxiety & Depression. Even if mistakes are made, all for want of trying their best, can ANY doctor say they have not made a mistake which harms a patient in some minor (or major way)?

    How many GPs go to work with a "heavy cold" and may be imparied that day? There are not enough GPs, and half partner posts are unfilled, some VTS post are at 40% only.

    How many doctors who happen to make a mistake "happen" to be on an SSRI to try and keep well? They would be stuffed then by the GMC...

    For God's sake some GPs have 6,000++ patient contacts per year. Why take the risk? Let's all have 20-30min appointments, give patient a better deal and not risk our livelihoods and mental health.

    Let the RCGP, MDU/MPS, NHSE back every doctor who is "forced" to consult at unsafe work rates. Patients need telling what exactly the risks their doctors are taking to provide care for them as best we can.

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  • I want you to imagine that the trade union UNITE had discovered that 3 members per year were committing suicide whilst in their employer's disciplinary procedure.
    What do you think Len McCluskey's reaction would be? What would the political parties' reactions be? Imagine the front pages of the newspapers. The police would start criminal investigations to examine if the employer's behaviour had contributed to the deaths.

    Now look for the GPC's reaction. I bet they send a polite letter asking the GMC to hurry up a bit old chap.

    So why are doctors abandoned, why don't they fight this awful state of affairs? Why do doctors tolerate being abused so much, in a way no other workers do?

    The only way this scandalous behaviour by the GMC will be sorted is to make the top management very scared. It needs a criminal investigation to establish whether or not the GMC behaviour contributed to those suicides.

    But I know nothing will happen. As always, doctors will moan but do nothing and let another nail be driven into their coffin while all they do is wring their hands.
    You desperately need a union that comes out fighting instead of playing the gentleman.

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  • 3 and 1/2 years for me and still going!

    Axillary vein thrombosis and now cardiac monitoring in the meantime, maybe its just bad luck?

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  • 11.36 The whole issue of prescribing for friends and family needs testing in court because it is not illegal, it will help us manage simple conditions and sensible prescribing is very unlikely to be be harmful.

    Obviously no-one should be prescribing themselves/family benzodiazepines and strong opiates but the current rules seem to be based on dogma and prejudice rather than evidence.

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  • Really worrying . Disproportionately high suicide rate is damning of the current GMC process. Most of us are not sociopaths and really care about our patients/reputation and thus it is easy to see why this happens.

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  • Should we have an annual health check- inc mental health and burnout issues?

    We're not good at presenting ourselves for treatment at right time. We try to keep going, delay attending, often only present after something bad has happened. Having an illness is one thing- it needs treating. Perhaps we need to be asked directly about possible symptoms?

    Putting patient's or our own safety and sanity at risk because of our illnesses isn't good for anyone.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Do I misremember an old GMC mission statement: "Supporting Doctors, Protecting Patients"?

    Oh dear.

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  • I referred myself to the GMC when I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder in 2009. The GMC "stress" imposed has been the main trigger for my relapses and me contemplating suicide.

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner | 19 December 2014 11:36am

    Unfortunately all too common

    I wouldn't spend too much time pretending to have a relationship with pharmacists. I meet a lot now and there are many who would love the chance to cause trouble for a doctor. Far too many malicious types out there!

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  • Having just received the gmc letter, the time of the letter is very concerning and implies a "you are guilty and the consequences for you are very serious" despite doing nothing wrong. Vectitous complaints written well enough and in enough detail will always result in ftp investigation. 2 months and waiting. The stress is awful.

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  • Having gone through all comments, I fully agree that there are far too many malicious complaints against GPs across the boar. From colleagues, other healthcare prof and highest number from our public. The public needs to be informed about the doctor shortages, and how we are struggling to provide health care.

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  • There are some very talented, productive and safe doctors with Bipolar Affective Disorder and other illnesses.

    I know several high-functioning Consultants, GPs, Registrars and Nurses all with eminently treatable chronic illnesses. 1 in 4 people have mental health problems at some point, stress of working in the NHS must send that higher. If the GMC imposed an unnecessary and unwarranted burden of scrutiny, stress and fear in 1 in 4 doctors ask yourself in what state would the NHS be in? More importantly what is the likely effect on "patient safety" posed by working clinicians traumatised past or present by GMC investigations.

    The GMC may wish to think hard about whether they serve the public interest and patient safety by their "chosen" actions against a doctor. We choose how to treat fellow human beings and yes that means due process, but it must be proportionate.

    Could there be a fund (even a voluntarry charity) to help these doctors keep a roof over their heads and feed their children? Not all doctors are rich, the average wage of a salaried GP is £54K.

    Burying this bad news the weekend before Xmas when the report has been ready for a year is despicable. That will count against the GMC when I hope "BMA Legal" launches a Corporate Manslaughter investigation. This report should be the first step towards a full judicial review.

    Fair trials please. Compensation awards where no case to answer, cleared or disproportionate consequences.... This whole situation for doctors and their regulator must be fully revolutionised for safety and sanity of all doctors.

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  • I am reading the report:

    More than half of those doctors who committed suicide (54%) had been referred to the GMC by their employer.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    Peter I spotted that too and 11% who committed suicide had self referred themselves which suggests that the GMC knew they were 'vulnerable' whether it be alcohol addiction or mental health. Even more reason to offer more support rather than treat them like a criminal?

    And to the GP who is still under GMC investigation 3.5 years and ongoing, if I were in your shoes, I would do a risk benefit analysis. Is it worth the damage to your health and wellbeing to be under years of chronic stress? Remember there is no compensation system for victims who have been cleared by the GMC after 5 years+ of investigations.

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  • This comment has been moderated

  • Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

    The world is a cruel and nasty place and no matter how strong we are no matter how brave it will beat us down and keep us there unless we have something deep inside that pulls us out ,keeps us going and each of us have to find our own strength , our own rope our own will ..to never stay down never give up

    Success has been defined and will continue to be defined as that person willing to get up one more time

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    Emotional resilience training into the medical curriculum so that junior doctors work a series of night shifts and do not speak up when the EWTD is breached, so that they drive home exhausted and risk car crashes on the motorway after long night shifts, so that they do not blow the whistle when hospitals attempt to cover up patient deaths, so that they put up with months or years under GMC investigation when they did no wrong?

    No, I think the solutions are transparency and accountability of the GMC for the consequences of protracted and inhumane processes that lead to corporate manslaughter; compensation for doctor victims; and the need for victims to speak out without fear of reprisal and snuffing.

    Doctors should not be taught to put up with inhumane working conditions, bullying and gagging when trying to improve patient outcomes and working conditions of colleagues and told to learn 'emotional resilience' when referred to the GMC to face representing themselves, doctors with no law degree in a legal FTP trial against the GMC's own barrister?

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  • Well said Una as always.To all those who may try to nullify your argument I will say what I have said on many times inmy career--'There is no experience like experience'
    Your last post highlights all the problems we face with the current arrangement and the solution is for us to become more resilient and understanding when having our careers wrecked !

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  • I was horrified to learn, during the process of when I was threatened with a vexatious complaint (which thankfully, hasnt materialised.....yet), that doctors emigrating cannot have a Certificate of Good Standing issued while a complaint is pending, so if facign even a 6 month triage investigation (not even a FTP process) I would not be able to take up an overseas post, and my compensation for loss of earnings? Nothing. Would my MDO help me sue the perpetrator if found to be purely vexiatious (and it genuinely was/is)? No. Innocent until proven guiity? Dont make me laugh. This, for a start, needs to change. CGS should be issued to all doctors until they have a sanction against them (Or send them to an IOP and determine risk), and until then, then they should not be penalised. It is barbaric what we have to put up with by this evil organisation. NO other profession would put up with this level of oppression.

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  • Una.what did Margaret report you for? If this was malicious shouldn't it be referred to .GMC?

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  • Thanks Una for bringing this up. I did contact you a few months ago to have a discussion, but I didn’t realise you have been dealing with all this. There are a lot of comments up till here and one can readily read the frustration between the lines. What is more interesting is no comments from the ‘other side’! One of the reasons could be ‘anything you say could be used against you in a court of law’, and that is ‘you have the right, actually not the right, you are bound to be silent!’
    My story is similar in some points and I might write it down further down, but I would like to just comment here, as someone who has been through the FTP process, for right or wrong, and has felt suicidal in many occasions, and still does every now and again, with flashbacks of harsh accusations and unfair judgements; how about those who have been through the process and been badly traumatised and left to rot?!
    There are several layers in Una’s comments and the following discussions. Looking at the matter in an ‘MRCGP exam-type’ manner(!), I could say the problems are at different levels of:
    Personal and professional relationship between colleagues, and between doctors and RCGP, and at a different level with the GMC.
    The next level is the way GMC treats doctors, with a mention of IMGs and the question whether they are treated differently.
    The next one is how we as a ‘non-union’ are dealing or can deal with this.
    Let’s look at the facts and figures: once a doctor is referred to the GMC, regardless of who has done it, the accusations start exponentiation; the poor chap becomes a monster and if all the start was a whistle blow, things turn around with colleagues’ concerns, several patient complaints, fraud investigation and all different sorts of bullying. You will even get emails from colleagues you haven’t even heard of, raising concerns about you. And all this happens, after 20 years of practice with no complaint, in a very short time of a few months. This will be viewed by the GMC as repetitive failure to meet the standards of a registered medical practitioner, although 6 months and 20 years are ‘significantly different’. In a way, it really doesn’t matter who starts the referral, Una, and I take it as the 54% referred by the college is a biased undervaluation of the depth of the calamity.
    The GMCs report on the failure rate of the IMGs in the RCGP exams is one thing, and the view of the sanctions and tribunals is the other. Surprisingly the number of IMGs who have shown ‘enough insight’ into their problems and might be able to rehabilitate back to work is ‘significantly’ lower than the corresponding white British group, as is the number of overall referrals to GMC. And of course, these are all due to ‘cultural differences’ and ‘language problems’, but still not accepted as an excuse in the FTPs.
    How are we dealing with this? Well, I guess nagging and moaning is part of the initial steps towards action; this shows there is a problem and we all recognise it. So the next step would be what to do about it. I for one, am doing nothing about it, as I don’t know what to do, I don’t have time, as I have to look for some cheap work to feed my family and pay my debts, and even if I did have time, I know I won’t be taken seriously unless I commit suicide.
    So, let’s carry on doctor…. And hope you are not one of those 1 in 4. With kindest regards and thanks for speaking up.

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  • Sorry I used to be a GP partner. I am no longer...

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  • Sessional locum 10.34 The majority of complaints have been by medics against medics and the majority of posts here back that up. Legitimate complaints by the public have caused the same distress by the GMC.......they need to be replaced along with the all too useless college...they have known the situation for years but kept quiet

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  • I recently went through a FTP initial investigation through a complaint from a patient. The wording on the initial letter is worrying. Thankfully, I knew I had done nothing wrong and I didn't even have to respond to the GMC before they completed their investigation. However, even that simple initial investigation took 6 months and was over my head during that time. I had to inform my employer who was thankfully very supportive and declare it to my appraiser. The GMC should be investigating doctors who have really serious complains against them - not ones that are clearly vexacious.

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  • i am confused - does the GMC itself not have a duty of care to these doctors (who are also patients). Isn't this the same as a prisoner dying in police custody or in prison? If that was to happen there would be a full investigation. Here we have at least 28 suicides - should the GMC not be fully investigated and appropriate accountability applied?

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