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The GP's role in urticaria

A GP has claimed a victory in the battle against frivolous complaints after he 'bombarded' the GMC with letters protesting his innocence.

Dr Andrew Bargery, a GP in Barnstaple, north Devon, said the GMC backed down from pursuing a complaint through fitness to practise procedures after his 14-week campaign.

Having fired off 10 letters and e-mails justifying his position, the GMC concluded at the end of May it need not take any further action.

He is the latest in a string of GPs subject to potentially lengthy and stressful investigations after frivolous complaints were made direct to the GMC.

He said it had felt like being 'stabbed through the heart' after he was notified he was s

ubject to a complaint, in a 'dreadful' letter from the GMC.

A patient who failed an incapacity test complained Dr Bargery had breached confidentiality by filling in an IB113 incapacity form.

That prompted the GMC to 'trawl' his record for a 'pattern of behaviour' of other breaches, said Dr Bargery.

He argued GPs had a statutory duty to reveal clinical information in such circumstances. The Department for Work and Pensions form also states the patient has given written consent for their GP to be approached.

Dr Bargery said the tone of the GMC's latest letter had been a 'grudging acceptance' of defeat. 'The case examiners felt the allegation was a serious matter,' the letter said. 'However, they have asserted there is no evidence that a breach of confidentiality occurred.'

Dr Bargery suggested the GMC should in future apologise for stress caused to doctors during investigations if complaints are found to be baseless and to thank doctors for co-operating.

'This complaint should never have got off the desk,' he said. 'The way the GMC ploughed on looking for any other dirty linen, when I

had repeatedly pointed out

the patient's elementary mistake, was tantamount to harassment.

'An intelligent child could have dealt with this better ­ this investigation was unnecessary and foolish.'

The GMC said it was obliged to gather information to help it decide what action, if any, is required. Many complaints do not require action, it said.

By Ian Cameron

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