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GMC to introduce 'new tone' in communications with GPs at risk of self harm

The GMC will adjust its communications with GPs involved in fitness-to-practise proceedings if they are deemed to be at high risk of self-harm, Pulse has learnt.

The regulator’s fitness to practise policy team says it is developing a protocol on how communications from the GMC should be more sensitively expressed if, during the course of a normal investigation, the GMC find out that a GP is at risk of self-harm.

This forms part of broader work to make fitness to practise proceedings less stressful, and follows a review of the tone of voice the GMC uses in its communications.

The ‘new tone’ has been implemented for all GPs, but if a GP is considered at high risk, the GMC said it will communicate with extra sensitivity.

A GMC spokesperson could not provide information on how they would identify a GP at high risk of self-harm and added that they did not have any figures for how many GPs are currently at risk of self-harming.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson, said: ‘Being part of a fitness to practise case is almost always a stressful experience, especially for the doctor involved. That is why we have an ambitious programme of reform to speed up the process and to do what we can to reduce the anxiety the process causes.

‘This has included establishing a separate adjudication service, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service - led by a judge, which is committed to fair and effective decision making. At the same time we are piloting meetings with doctors to hear their side of the story earlier and, where we can, agree how we can protect the public without a tribunal hearing. We are also reviewing the tone of all our letters to make them clearer and more sensitive.’

He added: ‘In addition we now have a support programme for witnesses appearing both for the GMC and for the doctor, and we have commissioned the BMA’s Doctors for Doctors service to provide confidential emotional support to any doctor involved in a fitness to practise case who wants it. The service is available free to any doctor, whether or not they are a BMA member.

‘Our priority must always be to protect patients but when we take forward concerns about doctors we want do this as quickly, fairly and sensitively as we can.’

Readers' comments (6)

  • Well, I am an appraiser and have had experience of the dreadful tone of the gmcs letters to clearly innocent suspects ,and it is our organization that is doing it!!

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  • when is it ever acceptable to have such a tone with doctors> An unacceptable tone would indicate a lack of belief in the concept of 'innocent until proven guilty' or is this a clue as to how the GMC really views doctors when complaints about them are made.

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  • The GMC has lost its trust with doctors as the annonymous names showed. It is now viewed as an empire building beauracractic organisation that does little in helping doctors. One needs to ask should we be funding it.

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  • On 27 July 2013, in the High Court in Manchester, I called the GMC a criminal organisation who is stealing £100 million a year from doctors and tax; assisting the Medical Indemnity cartel to do the same to the amount of £1 billion a year; and caused the death of twice the number of doctors than that of detainees of the Police and Prison Services combined. I stated that the GMC is guilty of Corporate Manslaughter: This is now excepted admitted as their Barrister did not raise any objection. So no surprise that they decided they need some serious spin to bury the murdered.
    Just received my "Referral to a FtPP" letter. No toning down. Only suggesting that I contact the BMA and Bar Pro Bono Unit.... If one has investigated the system, these two are clearly the GMC's partners in crime and confirmed by their recommendation.
    We tried the BMA doctors for doctors service: a not fit for purpose nepotistic nest.
    The allegation against me from the CQC has been dropped. The GMC had to fabricate other allegations.
    I cancelled my registration: So they have no jurisdiction.
    Having deliberately made me bankrupt and got a civil restraint order (under appeal) against me, these criminals for the life of them cannot understand that I keep on fighting them... 4 years (without a real hearing) and counting. "Why doesn't he kill himself like all the others did?"
    I am not British, I understand the importance of not letting the bullies get their way.

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  • Most of the comments appears to be understandable.
    GMC at last by changing the policy on their tone indirectly have admitted to perceive doctors guilty till proven otherwise. Shame on the institutional discrimination of the profession over patients.
    Good luck to Pieter Jooste

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  • Apparently according to the GMC, doctors are not patients so do not deserve to be protected either. Even if only from the GMC. Perish the possibility that they could be human and not just automata.

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