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Sliding scale of proof is so unfair

Sliding scale of proof is so unfair

From Dr John Mawdsley


I am concerned by Sir Liam Donaldson's suggestion that a sliding scale of proof could be used in fitness to practise hearings (News, 26 October).

All allegations should be treated in the same manner with proof being 'beyond reasonable doubt'. A system with a 'menu of options' will lead to different and unfair treatment allocated to different doctors. The political drive behind these changes does not take into consideration the total lack of benefit of these proposals and the pathway to defensive medicine.

The effective loss of our gatekeeper role will come and the result will be massive sums needlessly wasted!

• From Dr Steven Elliot


We perform an impossible job. We are responsible for an infinite range of conditions for most of which we have inadequate training and guidelines.

We have to see patients with life-threatening conditions without any allowance for time constraint.

We make mistakes. We are human. The pressure is indescribable. To subject us to public humiliation for making a poor judgment call and to threaten us with the loss of our career is crazy.

If everyone who made a mistake was barred from holding a responsible job then none of the current Cabinet would be holding office. How dare a Government that took us to war against Iraq without a mandate from the people impose this ludicrous impediment upon the medical profession

• From Dr Roy Burman

Edmonton, London

I strongly back the Pulse campaign opposing a weaker standard of proof required to declare a doctor unfit to practise.

I believe this change from the criminal standard 'beyond reasonable doubt' to the civil standard 'on the balance of probabilities' will lead to miscarriages of justice and see some doctors unfairly deprived of their liveliehoods.

Patients do trust their family doctors and confide in them. We do not welcome the plan for the PCT to access the patients' records. Many patients do not even want their family members to have access to their medical history.

I feel most doctors are very satisfied with our current governing bodies like the GMC, MPS and PCT.

• From Dr Giles Bointon

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

I would like to add my name to the petition. I would also like to encourage a campaign to get rid of Sir Liam Donaldson who in my opinion is an ineffectual timeserver who has gone feral. What great deed led to him being made a 'Sir'?

• From Dr C Minas


I cannot believe the CMO decided this on any other reasons rather than political; it saddens me to see medically qualified people being swayed by their Government roles and making such unsafe decisions that could cost someone their working life without sound proof of their guilt.

• From Dr Richard James

Falmouth, Cornwall

The large majority of doctors practise medicine with integrity in a dangerous minefield where uncertainty is king and a wrong call can have serious consequences for both patient and doctor. Now we are to face additional jeopardy from random judgments from the GMC.

Inflicting these proposals on us will do nothing to protect the public from bad doctors, will deeply traumatise some innocent ones and be to the detriment of the morale of the most conscientious practitioners.

I urge the Government: please reconsider – it will help no one.

Support the Pulse petition

We, the undersigned, oppose the proposal to weaken the standard of proof required to declare a doctor unfit to practise. We believe this change from the criminal standard, 'beyond reasonable doubt', to the civil standard, 'on the balance of probabilities', will lead to miscarriages of justice and see some doctors unfairly deprived of their livelihoods. We also believe it will lead to an increase in the practice of defensive medicine, which will be bad for patients and costly for the NHS.

To register your support

• Visit and follow the link to Justice for GPs.

• E-mail pulsecampaign@, leaving your name and postcode in the

subject field.

• Call 020 7921 8095 with your name, postcode and message.

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