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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)

  • I would be more than happy to sign up to a petition in support of Dr Beerstecher. You are a legend..you have my utmost respect in the face of such prolonged adversity..CQC are the internal affairs bullies for General Practitioners..I still don't get why we are all paying for this service and the GMC..madness..every week it gets worse..yet instead of standing up for ourselves like this outstanding professional(Dr Beerstecher) for what seems logical and factual..we all plod on accepting these chains and heavy burden. We know this has a knock on effect that is ruining our family lives, patients' health and causing/precipitating premature ill health in us through the stress of it all-forget happy retirement look forward to MI/CVA/cancer/divorce/alcoholism suicide and depression-sorry guys but the situation is ridiculous

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  • What a mess too little too late, I have been harking on about this BS for years and no one from my profession did anything. I have been threatened by my own CCG for being a troublemaker and disruptive for speaking out in the past, more or less threatened i would have all my medical records checked if I did not shut up. It takes a brave soul to put his neck on the line for some of us to wake up. UNfortunately my lot remained and still remain totally LIMP AND IMPOTENT.`````````````````````````````````````````

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  • Some stand on the sidelines and lob stones,I did'nt.
    When I got bullied by the secret police, I resigned and went to Australia for 4 happy years.On my return, I did'nt work again.I did'nt need to ,after a period of 'item per service'fees.(a bit like being a dentist in the UK)
    The people who I feel sorry for are the 35-50 age group,too old to retrain and too young to retire.
    However even this age group should take some 'Gonadotrophic factors',because they will be working till 75 and get NO Pension when they get there.

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  • It is well known that all of the regulatory bodies belong to the old boys network and scratch each others’ backs. This was demonstrated when I submitted a letter commenting on the impact “fitness to practice investtgations” by regulators, often instigated following vexatious complaints have on those unfortunate enough to become victims to the BMA. This was prompted by a combination of the treatment at the hands of the NMC and an article which I had read in the BMA News. My letter was published but dumbed down by censorship from the publishing panel that it completely altered the impact of what I had submitted. In spite of bringing this to their attention it refused to amend it. It transpired that certain members of the panel had previously worked with or had contacts within the GMC. Surprise, surprise! A closed shop situation. GMC, NMC, CQC all come under the same umbrella, and it is about time that the grass roots workforce united and stood up as a body against these dictatorial bullies who make the Orwellian thought police look positively benign. Dr Beerstecher, I and it would seem that a crowd of other medicos honour you as a hero for your stand and we are fully behind you. More power to your arm!

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  • CQC seem to have an awful lot of power. Filming them was not a bad idea. Who do we complain to if they behave or say things inappropriately or can they do whatever they want.

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  • The real tragedy of this story is that, while the GMC will regard this 2 month suspension as a minor 'slap on the wrist' designed to make an example of Dr Beerstecher without unduly affecting his ability to continue practising, the tribunal - and the majority of us as professionals - will have little insight into the true effects of this sanction. Firstly, Dr Beerstecher will be removed from the Performers List, and will have to apply to be reinstated. He cannot do this until his licence has been restored, and his application will take several months. Moreover, he will almost certainly have had his membership of his defence union revoked, as you cannot be a member of a defence union unless you are on the performers list. As you cannot apply to join the performers list until you are a member of a defence union, he must apply to the defence union first, and that application - which, again, will only be accepted once his licence has been restored - may take several weeks. During this prolonged period where Dr Beerstecher is no longer suspended but cannot work, any insurance he holds for locum cover will not apply as so he will have to pay for locums out of his own pocket, whilst earning nothing. As a single handed practice, the bill is likely to run into five figures. Most practices would buckle under the strain and face the risk of closure. But let's rejoice and appreciate how well the GMC have put the interests of the patients first.

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  • The battle for free speech and liberty equality fraternity is not yet won. Oppressive regulators like the CQC GMC will use weasel words like ‘lack of insight’ and ‘offensive and ... inappropriate’ to try to close down critics of the stultifying humourless dull box ticking pointless pile of s**t that they peddle and have the cheek to demand our money for.
    CQC staff (who are basically failed NHS managers) spend one yes’s that is 1 day per week doing inspections and the rest of the week having coffees and outings and reporting hard working doctors to the GMC

    What do they think this does for morale among GPs, who are in desperately short supply in large parts of the country, but that’s not their problem is it? .
    God help England - I am moving.
    Good for you Hendrik, for standing up to these w*****s. Presumably you have an escape route too. Fair enough.

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  • shame on CQC GMC

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  • Thanks for the additional comments of support from you all and anon2017 for the impact. There is an additional impact for single handers, that the GMS contract is terminated. In Kent no contracts have been awarded to single handed practices since 2003, mine was the one but last in 2001. The application form for performers list is 32 pages and includes requirement to have a DBS subscription and a language test (after 25 years of working as a GP and producing numerous audio recordings on the practice website and two videos on youtube)

    I have not had the inclination to review all that went on since 2007, when I was first reported to NCAS by NHS England and the multiple investigations since 2011 when the local RO office told me she would make life so difficult until I complied with every demand from NHS England.

    I have slept without waking at 3am in a cold sweat for the last month, and thinking of all the obstacles pointed out by anon2017 and the thought of being a salaried or locum in the current NHS primary care, no inclination to work, every inclination to draw my pension this year. It seems a shame, to abandon a job I think I am good at, and see the NHS deteriorate, to stand by while patients suffer, but I don't think I can take any more.

    Good luck to you all, you will need it.

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