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The waiting game

Where's my get-out-of-jail-free card?

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Does the GMC respect your work as a doctor? After the inexplicable decision to award their plum job to a guy whose red-faced appearance in front of the Public Accounts Committee made my second year pass-fail pharmacology viva attempt look slicker than Fonzie doing the moonwalk, I’d kind of assumed that the organisation held all of us in equal contempt. But some doctors, it transpires, are more equal than others.

As a mere GP, my work isn’t deemed valuable enough for such antics

According to a recent ruling by the GMC's Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service* an eye surgeon who conducted a 15-month sexual relationship with a patient was found to have impaired fitness to practise, but the MPTS decided not to sanction him as it concluded his surgical skills and abilities were ‘truly exceptional’ and it would be ‘jeopardising patient safety’ to suspend him. 

Let that sink in for a moment. Just as Premiership clubs overlook the Bacchanalian excesses of their star players, and the Government decided that the banks who stuffed the economy are too big to fail, so it turns out there’s a secret clause at the end of Good Medical Practice that says ‘PS: If you’re like super good at fixing cataracts you can pretty much ignore everything else in here. Fill your boots LOL.'

Where was I? Oh yeah. I imagine it would be quite fun to walk into a fitness to practise hearing safe in the knowledge that your job renders you untouchable. I’d be tempted to sit there fabricating my CV on a big screen projection, and then, on my inevitable acquittal, direct a conspiratorial wink at the panel before conspicuously prescribing myself a crate of celebratory heroin.

Of course as a mere GP, my work isn’t deemed valuable enough for such antics. But why not? This week Pulse listed 10 quiet successes of general practice, from enhanced cancer survival to reduced teenage pregnancies. There’s no miracles here, no rockstars, just thousands of hardworking professionals, diligently ticking boxes and tweaking behaviours, with a net result of millions of lives improved and countless pounds saved.  We lowly grunts may not merit a get-out-of-GMC-jail-free card as individuals, but our collective efforts are something to be proud of. 

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson

*Pulse have asked me to make it clear that the decision was taken not by the GMC per se but by its arms-length subsidiary, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, which, though a statutory committee of the GMC and funded through the same non-voluntary stethoscope tax, considers itself to be a separate and independent entity. I therefore urge readers to note the subtle distinction between the GMC and the MPTS and to definitely not copy my schoolboy error of viewing them as two cheeks of the same arse.

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Readers' comments (23)

  • COMMENTS (21)

    Anonymous | Other GP22 Aug 2016 5:31pm

    paranoid- perhaps, but that doesn't mean they are wrong on this one!

    Doesn't mean they are right either! It is a completely non-evidence based assertion designed to stir racial tension. Good idea or bad idea?

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  • Friends,
    I am a 6 year retired GP. I have been pointing out many times that the GMC, theBMA, the GPFC, the GPC, the MPS including all others, have no morality. If another accused doctor appeals his case and uses this defence, the courts would strike it down. This is blatant disregard for natural or for that matter, any justice.
    The defence organisations are paying millions to their chairmen and charging us for it. These organisations are not investment banks depending on the stock market but depend on doctor's premiums for their existence. So why such a costly Chairman? Does he have an exceptional ability to predict claims? A well qualified accountant and risk manager would perform better at 1/10 the price, and gratefully too.
    The LMCs, when it suits them, will also side against you if necessary. The BMA will do anything to exist. The GMC will do anything to trouble doctors. It is obvious that the health authority must have appeared on this eye surgeon's behalf.
    I thank God I have finished from the NHS. It is a hotbed of politics, discrimination,unfairness and injustice. GPs are tiny pawns. Patient concerns - nonexistent.

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  • I think there might be an argument here for an enhanced service - after all, if having consensual sex with your patient improves their general mental and physical wellbeing and reduces the risk of them being admitted to hospital, and/or reduces their need for pharmaceuticals (thereby reducing your drug spend) then surely it's a win/win?!!

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