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Gold, incentives and meh

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)

  • I think the rule is there to protect both patients and doctors. Not being able to have sex with your patients might be a bind but probably less of one than either a) being sexually exploited by your patient or b) being sexually exploited by your doctor.

    Pev wrote about this a while back: http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/blogs/peverley/no-sex-please-im-a-doctor/20006842.blog

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  • No bonking the patients. Blurs the boundaries too much. Same reason I can't/don't/won't treat my wife,children, parents etc. Can't be impartial.

    May be different in very isolated communities but not for most of us.

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  • 08.11
    Please do not describe " gender reassignment" as a sexual preference. This is shockingly ignorant and deeply offensive. Please go and educate yourself more about transgender issues.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    AH! Transgender, eh? Well, I wondered how long before the "I have a right to be offended button" would be pushed. A tiny number of people affected by it, yet it is in the headlines all the time. Can't help thinking there is an agenda here. (Generally- not just the last poster)

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  • AS it happens, lots of "top doctors" (sic) have immunity. WHenever one of them makes a disparaging comment about other doctors, its ok. Remember Sir Donald Irvine and "10% of doctors are not up to standard"? No action taken. Likewise the recent CCG chief. But if a lowly GP were to make such a statement, how long before he/she gets a brown envelope from Manchester?

    Another potential reason for not bonking patients is that many of them are ugly, and potty.

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  • if the defendant was an ethnic minority doctor, the outcome would NOT have been so lenient

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  • I actually feel reassured that there is a medical Tribunal for appeals
    To protect us from the GMC
    Of course the devil is in the detail
    And each case has to be judged individually

    We do have lives outside and completely away from our patients... But these still get acted upon by the GMC

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  • Re: Pete Deveson (5:06pm) - love it, love it, love it! You have made my year! "Not being able to have sex with your patients might be a bind". Yep - my 10:30, Miss Sinclair - phwoar, and even a wink on her departing (ding, ding, bonus points) but d'oh - what a bind!

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  • "Anonymous | GP Partner20 Aug 2016 11:01am

    if the defendant was an ethnic minority doctor, the outcome would NOT have been so lenient"


    -paranoid, much?

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

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