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Independents' Day

I blame the GMC for the failure of the no-blame culture

Dr Pete Deveson

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Bad news for the future of the profession, as the latest RMBF survey reveals 67% of doctors would not recommend a career in medicine to their children. Personally, I’m in the 33%; every so often one of my kids will pull a stunt so egregious that a mere grounding won’t cut it in terms of punishment, and a dastardly long-game revenge suggests itself instead.

I picture myself smiling mysteriously as I Christmas wrap their Little Tikes Operating Sets, grammar-check their UCAS forms and ferry them to interviews, and then one day, years from now, they’ll get a fast bleep in the dead of night: ‘Hello, is that the on call? I’ve got a message from your dad – he says he always knew it was you who scratched the car that time in 2016 and he wants you to know you’re all square now.’

I’m joking of course (as if my wife would ever let me do the Christmas wrapping lol), but what makes more sense as an explanation for the perennially-unsafe working conditions of a modern junior NHS doctor – is it a logically structured and properly resourced system for creating a new generation of happy well-adjusted professionals, or some kind of diabolical Naughty Step of Monte Cristo?

The actions of the GMC give the lie to all Jeremy Hunt's fine talk about fostering a no-blame culture

Consider the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, whose human errors while trying her best in a failing system contributed to the tragic death of an unwell child. Having been convicted of manslaughter and suspended from practice, she is now the subject of a Gollum-esque high court dispute between the GMC and its alter ego the MPTS (Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service) as to whether she should be permanently struck off.

There are remarkable similarities with the treatment of Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, the coincidentally hijab-wearing paediatrician many believe was scapegoated in the Baby P case, who was simultaneously deemed guilty of incompetence by the GMC and of being brown in charge of a medical degree by the tabloid press and its knuckle-dragging below-the-line commentariat.

To me, the actions of the GMC against Dr Bawa-Garba give the lie to all Jeremy Hunt’s fine talk about fostering a no-blame culture, but what can we do about this?

Well, you could take the time to familiarise yourself with the case, and if you agree with me that the GMC is acting unfairly by pushing for Dr Bawa-Garba to be erased from the register, please sign the petition in her support. It’s one little step towards creating a medical profession you might envisage your children aspiring to join.

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


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Readers' comments (9)

  • Just signed're absolutely right, if we don't all back this up , which doctor will be next to take the blame when the system fails?

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  • Well done for writing this article and drawing attention to this.

    Signed. This was doing the rounds on Facebook and it was being shared and signed a month or so ago. I think sharing this on social media is a great way to draw attention to this.

    Ideally we need the union on board with this (unless I'm missing something?).

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  • Well put Pete.
    Signed and contributed.

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  • Maverick

    Thank you for your article. I've signed the petition. Despicable behaviour from the GMC.

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  • Cobblers

    Signed it Pete. GMC = not fit for purpose.

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  • Great article - have signed this petition.
    I've been through the GMC - I believe they have their own political agenda and over-ride the FTP panel and even their own guidance. The power they have over doctors is unreal and I believe doctors acquiesce far too easily to the GMC due to fear and hopelessness - I certainly did.

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  • There are many things about the GMC and it’s workings, guidelines and publications that contradict the person-centred safety culture they claim to promote. The ethical code that the GMC runs by (and expects everyone else to) relates more to the nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries than to societies needs in 2017. The treatment of this, and other hardworking compassionate doctors, only reflects a culture that would rather scapegoat and easy target to divert attention away from the real problems, than admit the system does not work and try to address the real dangers. The current GMC structures and actions are the antithesis of a safety culture, and this case just proves it.

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  • I agree with all of the above and have also signed the petition. But remember - it is only a petition. We may be forced to declare our support for each other by way of real protest one day. Would you be up for it? I certainly would.

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  • One really wonders what on earth is going on here; a public totally ignorant about how we practice medicine in the 21st century, a parliament that steadfastly refuses to fund an overstretched NHS and a delusional and a so called regulator happy to strike off innocent, excellent doctors for massive systems failures,in a manner worthy of the Inquisition and Gestapo in order to keep in with the aforementioned ignorant public.....

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