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Three-quarters of doctors' health affected by GMC investigation

Nearly three-quarters of doctors investigated by the GMC believe the process had a damaging impact on their mental and physical health, a new survey has found.

A survey of 180 doctors investigated by the regulator in the past five years, carried out by the Medical Protection Society, revealed that 72% felt the investigation had a detrimental effect on their health, while 28% considered leaving the profession as a result of their experience.

Meanwhile, 47% of the doctors surveyed said they did not receive enough support in looking after their health, and 70% believe the GMC should offer more support to doctors facing an investigation.

Dr Richard Stacey, senior medico-legal adviser at the Medical Protection Society, said the findings of the survey were ‘alarming’.

He added: ‘Although these insights into the impact of GMC investigations on the health of doctors are alarming, they are unfortunately not surprising. The attributes that make a good doctor (for example, being caring, kind and conscientious) can also make them particularly vulnerable if they become the subject of a GMC investigation.

‘A doctor can experience fear when they receive a letter from the GMC informing them that they are the subject of a GMC investigation. The GMC do provide information about their procedures to doctors who become the subject of an investigation; however the correspondence can appear formal and legalistic.’

Earlier in the year, Pulse revealed that GPs will only be removed from the performers list after they have been fully investigated by the regulator, under new proposals devised by the Department of Health.

Readers' comments (23)

  • There is a desperate and urgent need for an independent public enquiry into the failings of this organisation.

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  • Agreed. The GMC is unaccountable and untouchable, shielded by its charity status. We pay the fees, the public think we are 'self-regulated' and no-one trusts either. The worst of all worlds.

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  • Dr Margaret McCartney BMJ this week :

    "Underfunding of mental health and cuts to social care have directly increased the primary care workload. GPs cannot safely see 40 or 50 patients a day, with two or three problems each, and not slip up. If the GMC can’t recognise this, we need a regulator that can."

    That needed saying.
    Doctors are extremely vulnerable right now and we would not wish our patients such an awful scenario of uncertainty. The sword of Damocles hangs over all of our heads. All it takes is one patient (for example out of 5,000 patient contacts/consultations a year as a GP) to email the GMC inappropriately or be a serial complainers for no good purpose. Or unwarranted disgruntled co-workers have an unust axe to grind etc
    For some vulnerable, fragile doctors the thought of losing their house, facing financial ruin and a 2-3 year investigation (whatever the outcome) is simply too much to bear.

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  • meant " unJust axe to grind etc "

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  • John Glasspool

    Good article in the Spectator this week by Vernon Coleman.

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  • revalidation is beaurocratic and pointless. How does it pick out dangerous doctors. That can only be discovered by patients or colleagues noticing their poor performance. Filling out patient satisfaction questionnaires and doing an audit really just takes up valuable time and isn't helpful to anyone. It is just there so those in high places can be seen to be doing something even if its pointless and harmful, causing many to retire early.

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  • While the GMC seeks to cover itself and provides private medical inurance for its own members people are dying. Large numbers of doctors have tragically died during this organisation's processes. (Also, many thousands of patients have died due to appalling standards of care during the GMC's watch). It is likely that doctors who have died have been forced to attend fitness to practice hearings when they were unwell. This cannot be right and appears to be a serious breach of a patient's rights.

    The following has been copied and pasted from another Pulse comment regarding the GMC's plea bargainng idea. It would require a test case / class action. Please comment if this is mistaken (anonymously if you too have serious concerns regarding the conduct of this organisation and fear potential reprisals):


    Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

    1The offence

    (1)An organisation to which this section applies is guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised—
    (a)causes a person's death, and
    (b)amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.
    (2)The organisations to which this section applies are—
    (a)a corporation;
    (b)a department or other body listed in Schedule 1;
    (c)a police force;
    (d)a partnership, or a trade union or employers' association, that is an employer.
    (3)An organisation is guilty of an offence under this section only if the way in which its activities are managed or organised by its senior management is a substantial element in the breach referred to in subsection (1).
    (4)For the purposes of this Act—
    (a)“relevant duty of care” has the meaning given by section 2, read with sections 3 to 7;
    (b)a breach of a duty of care by an organisation is a “gross” breach if the conduct alleged to amount to a breach of that duty falls far below what can reasonably be expected of the organisation in the circumstances;
    (c)“senior management”, in relation to an organisation, means the persons who play significant roles in—
    (i)the making of decisions about how the whole or a substantial part of its activities are to be managed or organised, or
    (ii)the actual managing or organising of the whole or a substantial part of those activities.
    (5)The offence under this section is called—
    (a)corporate manslaughter, in so far as it is an offence under the law of England and Wales or Northern Ireland;
    (b)corporate homicide, in so far as it is an offence under the law of Scotland.
    (6)An organisation that is guilty of corporate manslaughter or corporate homicide is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine.
    (7)The offence of corporate homicide is indictable only in the High Court of Justiciary.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • we need to change things
    Come and have your say

    http://www.groupanalysis.org/EventsandWorkshops/CreatingaHealthierNHS,HealthyStaffHealthy.aspx

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  • Something is profoundly wrong with the NHS today

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  • Everytime the GMC activity is mentioned there are significant numbers of upsetting incidents reported by doctors which occurred during investigation.
    Many of the reports strike a cord as 'there but for the grace of god any of us'
    Enough is enough. No organisation can remain credible in this current climate without being responsible to its peers. What about a profession wide feedback on the GMC
    Doctors pay for this organisation so should have some confidence that it is simply not out to perform entirely to its own satisfaction.
    For the love of god its time that some of our bodies started to go on the offensive against this organisation .

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