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At the heart of general practice since 1960

'Significant jump' in GP complaints

For Dr Simon Fisher (Letters, September 3) to relate sick doctors to criminals is distasteful in the extreme. Such comments will only increase the reluctance of doctors with mental health issues to seek appropriate help, to the detriment of the public and profession alike.

Indeed in the same issue of Pulse there is a news story that the proposed increase in disclosure is causing fear among affected doctors.

Dr Fisher is also inaccurate in his statement that GMC fitness to practise hearings are open to public observers. Those procedures relating to health are not open and the GMC itself acknowledges that in this case the publication of confidential details on its website breached its own stated policies on confidentiality.

I hope simply that Dr Fisher is himself never in the position of having to deal with mental health problems, let alone that they are exacerbated by similar unhelpful stigmatising comments.

If, however, he, or others, do find themselves in such a position, then I can assure them they will not be alone and suggest that they make contact with the Doctors Support Network (www.dsn.org.uk) or the Doctors Support Line (0870 765 001).

Dr Mandy Fry

GP Retainer

Cirencester and Oxford VTS Course Organiser

·I can see from Dr Fisher's letter that he is one of the members of our profession who feels he has a 'privileged' position in society and of course automatic immunity to any health problems.

How he has the audacity to compare a health-impaired doctor to somebody in a criminal court is beyond me.

The fact that the GMC publicly disclose health-specific information about doctors during their hearings certainly does not make this procedure correct or above criticism.

It is an intrusion and a breach of confidentiality.

Doctors are asked to consent, but under threat of disciplinary action if they do not. The GMC is clearly ignoring its own guidelines to doctors on confidentiality when handling patients' information and I can see absolutely no justification for health-specific information to be revealed to the public under any circumstances.

As a doctor-patient I am horrified by the GMC's actions and the views expressed in Dr Fisher's letter.

Name and Address supplied

·Dr Fisher has missed the whole point ­most doctors would have no problem with the publishing of details regarding doctors subject to disciplinary orders for criminal behaviour.

However, should our psychiatrically-ill colleagues not be allowed any confidentiality? The GMC register should note their suspension but the details must remain private.

It appals me that in a day of human rights and liberal philosophy an ill doctor is refused confidentiality by his or her own regulatory body.

Yet it is considered absolutely essential in medical practice.

One wonders if the GMC has returned to the era of the ducking stool?

Dr Timothy Southwood

Nailsea, Somerset

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