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GMC to review effect of poor mental health in 'wider doctor population'

Exclusive The GMC is set to launch a review into the ‘wider question of mental health and wellbeing’ of all doctors, regardless of whether they are under investigation by the regulator.

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey, told Pulse that he is 'very concerned' over the mental health of 'the wider doctor population' as discussions over doctor resilience 'tend to personalise the problems for the doctor rather than the context in which they are working'.

He said that following a review into the impact of GMC investigations on doctors in 2016, the GMC made changes to its fitness to practice processes, opting to spare doctors with mental health problems from a full investigation.

But speaking at Pulse Live in London yesterday, Mr Massey said the GMC's responsibility to doctors' mental wellbeing is 'actually deeper than that'.

He said: 'I believe that the GMC has a locus to think about and care about the mental health and wellbeing of the wider doctor population. It’s not just about doctors going through our processes.'

Mr Massey said that he has asked Dame Denise Coia, chair of Health Improvement Scotland, and senior King's Fund fellow Professor Michael West to lead on the review which would look that the ‘wider question of mental health and wellbeing’ in the medical profession.

He said that doctors who have a mental illness 'are more likely to make mistakes, they're more likely to leave the profession and I don’t believe that anybody other than the GMC will be sufficiently well placed' to take on the review.

This comes after a study in the BMJ found that nearly four in five doctors with complaints lodged against them feel the investigation process was ‘needlessly’ long and meant they were more likely to experience depression and anxiety.

Is Fitness to Practice fit for purpose?

The GMC has previously pledged to introduce 'resilience training’ similar to that offered to soldiers in Afghanistan in order to be prepared for the 'occupational hazard’ of a GMC investigation.

A review launched by the GMC proposed doctors with mental health or addiction issues should be spared full investigation and ensuring all doctors have access to mental health support - like the BMA’s Doctors-for-Doctors which is backed by the GMC.

And this came after Pulse has published a series of articles about the pressure that GMC procedures put on vulnerable doctors, including a report that found that 28 doctors had died by suicide while under investigation and that 13 additional doctors died while the regulator contemplated action.

Another study has shown that complaints against doctors ‘may do more overall harm than good'.

Readers' comments (28)

  • On the GMC actions speak louder than word Mr Massey.

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  • Has Dr Bawa Garba been reinstated yet Charlie?

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  • So Doctor, your mental health seems to be about average according to our recent study. This means that you can take all the punishment we can dish out and you will not kill yourself. Arse covered.

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  • Ned Diddly Diddly

    The whippings will continue untill morale improves...

    Well done GMC
    You have ended meaningfull reflections
    and now

    Doctors will have to further hide any mental health issues

    Remind me again who you are trying to help?
    Can you inform us what support you will provide to any doctoir with mental health issuesd
    apart from giving them the further
    anxiety and depression of being further scrutinized

    Sad days indeed

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  • Ned Diddly Diddly

    He said that doctors who have a mental illness 'are more likely to make mistakes,
    they're more likely to leave the profession...

    ...AND WE WOULD LIKE TO WEED THEM OUT SOONER

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  • There is no confidence in the GMC so why are they still pretending they have a mandate.
    We are looking for actions not political words. Why is Dr Barwa Gaba still charged and not re-instated? I doubt anyone would be raising any feeling low symptoms. The GMC would investigate you, see if there are any errors from the date you felt low and take action against you. To protect patients, they would also stop you from working. Big support and "lessons learnt" from all the doctors that killed themselves during those long GMC investigation. Sad to say that is where our fees go to fund this organisation. What actions have the GMC taken against the hospital making her do 4 doctor's job?

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  • Ned Diddly Diddly

    Charlie .. could you initiate a review into burnout linked to excessive workload (for the last ones standing)
    and its link with subsequent depression
    and what the Government is doing to counter this

    Will the GMC be pursuing Doctors medical records or will these remain confidential

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  • Ned Diddly Diddly

    Charlie .. The goverment has doctors walking a medicolegal tight rope
    and you and your organisation are simply the crocodiles at the bottom of the valley

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  • Ned Diddly Diddly

    How odd that we have to feed the crocodiles who may one day eat us

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  • Ned Diddly Diddly

    Best to see some of these online Doctors .. Seems they do not document or communicate with your own gp

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