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Niall Dickson: 'We want to make our procedures as low stress as we can'

The GMC has published its review of fitness-to-practice procedures for vulnerable doctors. They should be as low stress as possible, says its chief executive

We know that some doctors who come into our procedures have very serious health concerns, including those who have had ideas of committing suicide.

We know too that for any doctor, being investigated by the GMC is a stressful experience and very often follows other traumas in their lives. Our first duty must, of course, be to protect patients but we are determined to do everything we can to make sure we handle these cases as sensitively as possible, to ensure the doctors are being supported locally and to reduce the impact of our procedures.

Although a referral to the GMC will always be a difficult and anxious time for the doctor involved, we want to handle complaints as effectively as possible and ensure our processes are as quick, simple and as low stress as we can make them.  We have made some progress on this but we have more to do, and that includes securing legal reform.

We will now review our current process for dealing with doctors with health problems and identify any further changes that may be needed.

We do recognise that doctors need to be able to access appropriate support when they are not well, and that doctors may have particular needs in their dealings with mental health and other services. The independent review recommends the establishment of a National Support Service for doctors.

Although this is not a matter for us we will convene a meeting in the New Year to bring together those who have an interest and expertise in this area.

Niall Dickson is chair of the GMC

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Vinci Ho

    GMC to introduce 'emotional resilience' training after finding 28 doctors under investigation committed suicide

    Vinci Ho's comment | 19 December 2014 10:53am
    I think there is a difference between .....' our first duty must , of course, be to protect patients....' and ' our first duty must , of course , be to investigate to see if GMC rules are broken....'
    This is important as a politically correct statement from ND. Otherwise , it is presumed guilty instead of innocent.

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  • Vinci Ho

    'We are being regulated to death'

    Vinci Ho's comment | 19 December 2014 3:33pm
    The currently set low threshold to trigger an official accusation in all forms( complaints , legal actions from no win , no fee legal firms, reporting to GMC) has certainly been eroding into the principle of presumed innocent and guilty until proven in Common Law. This has been interpreted as better way of 'protecting the patients' . Question remains ' have they got it right and proved doctors guilty in most of the cases?' I think the evidences presented even by GMC has explained that.
    Are patients better protected? I guess not . In fact , it is worse because whistleblowers are subjected to this cruelty as well. Where is the justice to be set?
    GMC has a lot to answer to the public if a system like itself has the risks of causing substantial cases of miscarriage of justice but let loose the real culprits......

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  • Disgraceful response by the GMC - tantamount to suggesting that those poor colleagues who came to harm were in some way suffering LMF???

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  • Unmitigated sanctimonious politically correct bovine excreta. It is the judgment of this FTP panel that you are suspended from the register until such time that common sense prevails in the GMC’s management of doctors.



    Words will not suffice. Fall on your sword mate and take your damned organisation with you.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • Vinci Ho

    Nial Dickinson needs to realise that the current process of referring to fitness to practice panel of GMC can be abused as a mean of bullying. Clearly, bullying can lead to death .
    Reading the comments( nearly 100 comments) in the main article on the subject , the process of handling a referral case appears to be flawed. Disrespectful, presumed guilty and disdainful are the main themes. Even the Police cannot behave in these ways when they are at the stage of receiving and investigating a crime.Yes,the whistleblowing can be true as well as false allegation .GMC must serve for both fairness and justice. This is no country like China , Russia or North Korea . There is a reason why Themis , the Greek Goddess , is blindfolded for objectivity. Not sure GMC had displayed an understanding of that?

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  • The term resilience has spread from banking and other failed financial services to the NHS which frankly is the most resilient organisation visible from outer space.
    Shame on the terms use by the GMC

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  • GMC - a very expensive rope around our collective necks. Their endless gyrations to the tune of their political masters makes it unlikely that we'll see an end to their scope-creep and intransigence.

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  • Adding hypocrisy to hypocrisy

    The problem for the stress of investigated dotors does not really rely on their fragility but on the very source of it.
    The existence of a tribunal for doctors is the real point to be reviewed.
    This horrific institution does exist only in UK and British linked countries; there is no correspondence in any other country where the medical matters are treated by simple disciplinary boards in the most simple manner and with real independent mind.
    The way the UK tribunal is moving is simply against every reasonable law, violating the elementary human rights.
    The whole process is based on a preconstituted agenda and theories, completimg forgetful of the evidence.
    Each passage is self referring; each “independent” opinionist is in reality fully dependant on previous opinions. Nobody is looking for facts nor for reality.
    The sentence is well written far before it is pronounced.
    The whole procedure is unlawul and abusive.
    I wonder for how long doctors may be able to bear such stalinist board with its kgb methodology.

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