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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)

  • " a very difficult and upsetting experience for our inspection team "

    Beyond satire.

    How do you think it feels for GPs HAVING THESE BULLYING HALFWITS ORDERING US AROUND AND TRASHING OUR REPUTATIONS FOR STUFF THEY DO NOT EVEN UNDERSTAND?

    Just when are the BMA going to grow a backbone and do something? They could start by organising a fund to help Dr Beerstecher whilst he is unable to work.

    Dr Beerstecher, you are a hero sir. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  • David Banner

    Whilst I won’t shed any crocodile tears for those poor lambs at CQC, 2 wrongs do not make a right. But oh the delicious irony of hearing CQC bleating about bullying and intimidation- priceless!

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  • Tantalus

    CQC inspections are a very difficult and upsetting experience for our practice teams who should be able to do their job of general practice without experiencing bullying nitpicking from CQC inspection teams......or is that just me?

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  • And how will suspending their GP help his patients "get safe, compassionate and high-quality healthcare"? Complete hypocrisy.

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  • Diddums!

    Can we coin a medal for medical heros such as he is?

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  • Elect him President of the BMA?

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  • this GP is a hero in my eyes. We should all support him against the bullying authorities.

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  • Cannons to the left of him, Cannons to the right
    And Dr Beerstecher still rode on
    That is the legend

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  • Cobblers

    I have sent Hank a supportive email and for the life of me I cannot understand why this got as far as it did and how the MPTS thought this worthy of suspension?

    I note, as yet, the transcription of the ’trial’ has not been posted. I will read it when it is and request it if it isn’t.

    This is a well-run practice in North Kent and I would be happy for my family to be registered there, which, in my book, is the marker of quality. But, of course, the CQC felt it to be inadequate because of poor leadership (seriously?? He’s just proved you wrong there) and probably the ink used on his policies was the wrong colour (TIC).

    Such was the sense of injustice that he videoed the revisit and the powers that be decided to make an example of him. Some of the GMC quotes are beyond travesty and demonstrate manifest inability to understand the loathing they are held by the profession they purport to support.

    Having upset the powers that be they decided to make and example of him “pour encourager les autres”. Make no mistake this was a high up vendetta aimed at him by our supposed superiors.

    Now I Am Not A Lawyer but no law was broken here, indeed transparency and truth were demonstrated and the CQC shown to be the bullying incompetent turds they are to the public. It is time in my opinion all CQC visits were videoed and I suspect this stupidity would stop. (I used to find audio taping CCG or PCT visits a useful moderator!)

    I will raise a glass to you Hank this weekend.

    Email me if I can be of help.

    Cobblers, retired GP Thanet.

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  • Is there such a thing as a Parliamentary Medal of Honour for brave Citizens? Dr Beersteche deserves one!
    He should have the red carpet rolled out for him for showing out these clueless bullies.
    A taste of their own medicine I call it.

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  • 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

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

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  • You always fought for what was right and fair.
    Good luck

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  • Hats off to our colleague. I understand him as have myself recorded meetings with NHSE after being verbally abused by NHSE Managers and mocked at a meeting in the presence of impotent LMC officials who were there to support me. And I would be glad to put it to the national media as the Manager at the enxt meeting when I decided to record for my safety - blatantly bragged he did not care a damn about patient opinion. The arrogance was so great that I paraphrased the question initially put by the LMC representative twice more- and he insisted - I don't care what patients say!
    Our colleague is in Kent and we are subject to abuse once too often and independently colleagues are resorting to ways to protect themselves.
    This particular case is odd. CQC is not happy to be recorded? Do they have something to hide? If a Doctor comments on incongruencies in their actions, should they not contemplate first instead of attacking and demanding the post be taken down?. Is it arrogance or a refusal to reflect on the comments? Lastly, do we live in a democracy and whether these so called Inspectors consider themselves above accountability for their actions so they do not accept any criticism?
    Lot of questions there, which we all need to consider and the establishment needs to take into account. ostracizing is easy, discussing difficult issues is what is required.

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  • By the way, MPTS officials are usually GPs working with CCGs, Deaneries, as GP Tutors etc. They rarely have the balls to stand up to the establishment. In a local educational meeting in Medway- the GP in this case is from Medway-we were advised by a GP Tutor that 'NHSE is all powerful, do not dare to stand up to them'.
    Point taken, thank you. Interestingly, of the 30 odd GPs who attended, not one was white British although we do have English GPs in Medway.
    Am I going to be suspended now???

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  • I do take my hat off for you Dr Beerstecher taking a stand against the CQC on behalf of small practices.
    As GP of small Practice who faced three inspections during the last two years, I wish I had the option of Recording.
    Dear BMA leaders Now it the time for Decisive Action!

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  • What does the RCGP and BMA have to say about this case? Probably not a lot.

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  • The CQC is not overseen by a regulator.
    That is a very dangerous situation.
    Even the GMC has the PSA - which sadly does not prevent it behaving unfairly.

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  • Here's where I come in again lol This is what you get with state intervention/regulation/funding of comprehensive healthcare provision -- Quangos. You want it gone? You'd have to de-politicize it. Let the free market decide.

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  • And Hendrik, I would vote for you too, if you run for BMA ;p

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  • It defies belief that these Stalinist apparatchiks are stifling the voices of reason acting against the tyranny of the CQC an organisation as self serving as the GMC. The GMC and medical tribunals are all stacked against the profession having been stacked with politically motivated and directed oppressors.
    At no time is their joint behaviour acceptable but it is even less so when the profession is at such a low point, a point which has been reached in part due to the continued ineptitude of the GMC and CQC.

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  • This GP is a hero. The CQC have been an absolute disgrace. Locally they failed many really good practices. When they visited our team they were nothing more than incompetent bullies.

    I will be recording the next visit and also have LMC represenation during the visit. Their report had many errors. These errors were eventually accepted; but still they refused to change the report.

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  • The bottom line is that we are and can be policed by all and sundry but institutions such as CQC cannot and certainly mustn’t be publicly criticised even when justified. This goes way beyond dictatorship, communism etc and certainly isn’t democracy. This GP should be knighted for taking a stand!

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  • So - This GP is suspended by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service for two months after filming a CQC inspection.

    The GMC said: "This behaviour was not in the interests of keeping his patients well looked after".

    However, according to The News and Star - 17th November 2018:
    An allegedly "trained" - (but with no qualifying MB BS)
    fake "psychiatrist" appeared before the M.P.T.S.

    Phil Coleman reported:

    "More worryingly, she sanctioned the detention of psychiatric patients (against their will for treatment) despite at the time not having authority to do such work".

    "For this she was given an official warning by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal".

    Was this behaviour "in the interests of keeping her patients well looked after"?

    --------------------

    "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".

    Traumatised CQC inspectors might be well advised to avoid the possibility of a "diagnosis" of PTSD, and all the accompanying, evidenced-based, high risk of serious and prolonged SSRI-ADRs/neurotoxicity and discontinuation syndromes.




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  • As mentioned previously it will be extremely revealing the reason for what appears to be a respected, popular GP,and certainly one who has taken great personal pride in his Practice is suspended for. I trust it will not be "Lack of insight!" Another victim of the dangerous end game that we are all witnessing. As a system fails the regulators thrash around in throes of self interest instead of supporting the faithful footsoldier.

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  • I honestly think these agencies just do not understand the impact of what they are doing. They have RIGHT on their side, are battling the forces of lassitude/complacency/mediocrity etc and are unstoppable.
    GMC, A&R, CQC, NHS England, pensions - its a tsunami of disincentives to continue practising.
    And the RCGP and BMA get panned in the press if they defend us, panned by us if they don't do enough. The truth is, they cannot hope to overcome the multiple forces of the establishment.
    "We're all doooomed, Mr Mainwaring!"

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  • |anon2016 | Locum GP|10 Dec 2018 11:53am

    Seriously? You think they are doing it out of ignorance? It would be more logical to think they are doing it intentionally.
    The RCGP/BMA don't owe a duty to the press. We pay their subs, not the public. If I were they, I would err on the side of doing more for the doctors, than for anyone else. Like I said, this is what you get when the state intervenes, and it gets political.

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  • Reading this article made me feel ashamed. I am so outspoken about the CQC that I am banned from the practice when we have visits rather than risk harvesting a poor report. Some people are braver than I am.

    What really gets under my toenails is that all these interfering busybodies no doubt aim to practise evidence-based medicine. And yet they fly in the face of all evidence regarding their activities. There is a wealth of evidence demonstrating the negative impact that CQC inspection has on practices. The only evidence that this dire organisation can produce for the benefit of its inspections is its own. Hardly an unbiased source of data.

    Is it too late all to stand together, say enough is enough and refuse to be inspected? If the GMC banned us all from practising for 2/12 the NHS would be on it's knees in days.

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  • Shameful behaviour by the CQC and the GMC (again).
    Does anyone know if there is a petition in the offing?

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  • Dear All,
    My understanding is that there was a disagreement between Dr Beerstecher and the CQC inspection team about what was said / done. I also understand the video recording confirmed Dr Beerstecher's version of events. If this is the case then this would seem to be an injustice.
    Regards
    Paul C

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  • Dear All,

    https://www.cripps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Guidance-note-Can-I-record-meetings-or-conversations.pdf

    Regards
    Paul C

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  • I will sign a petition

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  • Forget the GMC, BMA and all the other pathetic bodies involving themselves in our profession. I say vote Henk to be president of the USA, EU and everywhere else. At last someone with backbone to stand up to the spineless suits in our world.

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  • I will sign the petition too.
    2 months suspension will definitely not make the practice safer which is what the CQC and GMC is about but as it shows they have lost the plot. This looks like Bawa Gaba the 2nd. and will put people off coming into GP and the UK and push more to leave.

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  • oooh lack of insight. my favourite way of controlling GPs. we at the GMC do not need to have any insight, ask bawa whatshername

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  • Agree with a petition.

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  • Can the MPTS be challenged in the courts?

    The decision here seems to require a significant degree of collusion and deliberate abuse of power from two organisations whose responsibility is great, but whose reliability has been questioned repeatedly.

    That they lack insight has been suggested, but is it more that they know what they are doing, and it is against their own rules, the rule of law and of natural justice.

    They have demonstrated clearly that they have no legitimacy in a call to following rules, as they do not follow the rules they have set, or those set for them.

    Either the organisations must be abolished, or at the least their current leadership must be removed to begin to reestablish any basic credibility.

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  • This is an intolerable story about an appalling organisation the CQC that , so far at least , we do not have to put up with in Wales . Organisations now regularly use the ‘ our staff will not be subject to bullying whilst carrying out their duties’ - ignoring the bullying effect that their staff have on others . I hope that Dr Beerstecher and his practice staff can survive this . I wonder what the patient practice group has to say ?

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  • I'm sure Charlie Massie et al must be trembling at the thought that there might be a petition going round,that a few contributors may sign at some future time.
    The very reason the gmc know that they will get away with there repression is the limp wristed ,impotent reactions you get on here.Meantime a colleague's livelyhood is threatened.ie.they will endure when good people look the other way.

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  • Dear Horizontally opposed, you are next!!

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  • Dear Horizontally opposed
    I'm happy to take more drastic action. I think the publicity around the Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba case helped her a great deal. So are limp wristed petitions are not completely impotent.

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  • Can the decision challenged in court?

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