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Independents' Day

Let's counter-sue frivolous complainers


When I was a newly-qualified houseman I asked the MDU why it was they never counter-sued over vexatious or libellous complaints. I was rather patronisingly told doctors did not want to be seen by the public to be suing their patients ­ that this would be 'adverse publicity'.

Sixteen years later, and in the light of Dr Gerri McKeever's case (June 30), the recent publicity over the GMC treatment of accused doctors and Dr Gerard Panting from the Medical Protection Society's article on new legislation opening the way to more complaints (June 23), I am sure the MDU was wrong ­ counter-suing should be considered for a number of reasons.

·It is surely right that patients are held accountable for their accusations. No one else is going to do it.

·It would boost morale hugely and stop the exit of our most caring doctors.

·The 'adverse publicity' is precisely what we are looking for and would be welcomed anyway by many decent patients who are fed up with NHS resources being diverted to settling complaints. (Since when did we join the MDU for public relations purposes?)

·It might well halt the rise in complaints.

The lawyers pursuing claims against doctors have had the gloves off for years now. Worrying about how we will be perceived is a nonsense. Whether complaints get pursued and upheld has nothing whatsoever to do with how we are perceived and very little to do with standards of medicine.

It is basically a legal lottery, but skewed by the aggressiveness with which the complaint is pursued.

For all these reasons we also should take the gloves off to give complainants serious cause for second thoughts.Dr Matthew ShawReadingBerkshire

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Well said. When punched, one should be allowed to punch back. It is only self defense.

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