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LMC removes GP who raised GPC ‘conflict of interest’ concerns

LMC removes GP who raised GPC ‘conflict of interest’ concerns

A GP has been removed from her LMC position for ‘non-attendance’ just days after raising concerns over a potential conflict of interest.

Dr Clare Sieber, who was a committee member of West Sussex LMC, said the timing of her removal – just days after raising concerns over how her LMC chief executive handled conflict of interests – seemed ‘a bit fishy’.  

Last week, GPs raised concerns about a conflict of interest for the BMA’s GP Committee for England after a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) panel suspended a GP over climate change protests. 

Pulse reported that several GPs felt there was a conflict of interest for the BMA’s GPC as Dr Julius Parker – the committee’s deputy chair, who is also Surrey and Sussex LMCs chief executive – was the medical member on the MPTS panel that made the decision

The LMC removed Dr Sieber from the committee yesterday, claiming this was due to her missing a number of committee meetings.

But in a letter she sent to the West Sussex chair Dr Paul Vinson last night, Dr Sieber said she missed the last three committee meetings due to ‘scheduling during school holidays’ and claimed the committee failed to follow due process by removing her before seeking to understand why she could not attend meetings.

Dr Sieber said that the decision to remove her ‘serves none other purpose than to intimidate’ her and other colleagues at Surrey and Sussex LMCs (SSLMCs) who have been sharing ‘some uncomfortable truths’ about the LMC leadership.

Surrey and Sussex LMCs confirmed to Pulse that Dr Sieber had been ‘disqualified’, but said the committee had conducted a review which found that she had attended only two of the 12 meetings over the past two years.

In her letter to the West Sussex chair, Dr Sieber said: ‘Sadly I believe that the timing of your decision serves none other purpose than to intimidate me and other colleagues at SSLMCs who have been sharing (and admitting fear in doing so) some uncomfortable truths recently about the way the large, unincorporated organisation is being run and governed.

‘There clearly needs to be an independent investigation into matters that have been raised, I believe this may be the third such formal request for one.’ 

She added: ‘In light of the committee’s recently agreed process, which you kindly referred to in your letter to me, I was expecting a “welfare” letter first to allow you to understand any reasons for such non-attendance. 

‘Had such an approach been followed, you would have realised that my father died a couple of weeks ago and you could have avoided your email being sent on the day of his funeral if nothing else.’

Dr Sieber also suggested that the practice of scheduling during school holidays, which prevented her from attending two meetings, ‘may warrant reviewing’ to ascertain whether it is ‘inclusive’. 

In response to Dr Sieber’s letter, a spokesperson for the LMCs said: ‘SSLMCs confirm that Dr Sieber was advised that she was disqualified from membership of West Sussex LMC, following a review in which it was identified that over the past two years Dr Sieber had only attended two of the twelve West Sussex LMC meetings, and had missed the last five consecutive meetings.’

The LMCs stated that their constitution stipulates that a member will be disqualified if they miss three meetings.

This clause on disqualification is subject to the chair’s ‘discretion’, for example for absence due to long-term illness.

They also highlighted that a ‘welfare letter’ is not required but the committee has suggested sending these in future ‘if no other information is available’.

The spokesperson continued: ‘The role of an LMC Committee member carries with it a responsibility and expectation that colleagues will attend LMC meetings regularly, recognising that an occasional absence, such as for personal holidays or illness, will occur.

‘Being a member yet repeatedly not attending meetings potentially deprives another colleague of the opportunity of undertaking this role and contributing to the Committee’s work.’

Responding to Dr Sieber’s references to the committee’s inclusivity, the LMCs highlighted that half of its six LMC board members and 75% of its eight directors identify as female.

‘SSLMCs completely refutes any suggestion that it is not equally welcoming and supportive
to all colleagues,’ the spokesperson added.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 1 May, 2024 1:14 pm

This is a bit strange in several ways. First, meetings scgeduled always during school holidays are harder for every practice to release a colleague for, because they are usually busier times for GPs, and more staff are likely to be off, and locums are harder to find.
Second, venues for meetings are usully more expensive during school holidays.
Thirdly, it seems strange to report how many of the Executive who identify as female rather than ore simply how many are female – it appears to be an indication that some of them are not really female – which is something that we do not really need to know or reveal publicly, do we?
Last, it would be really interesting if the subsequent election for a replacement results in Dr Sieber being elected by her constituents again.

So the bird flew away 1 May, 2024 1:52 pm

All good points I feel Dr Sieber was right to publicly raise the conflict concern (even if less brave drs wouldn’t have). The LMC’s timed action does have the appearance of the workings of the “old boy” network (even if these days the term covers all genders).
A poor, possibly cowardly, action by the LMC.

Clare Sieber 1 May, 2024 4:25 pm

David I have sought asylum elsewhere and was coopted onto Berks LMC on the same day – they felt, amongst other reasons, that it wasn’t a good look for the deputy chair of England LMC conference to be orphaned, LMC-wise.

I doubt there will be an election as those sorts of processes have been lacking in the past, but with that seat now empty sadly 4 of the 6 Chichester area seats are unoccupied which isn’t a great look mandate wise and does question the whole argument of making way for other people to stand

John Glasspool 1 May, 2024 5:21 pm

2 out of 12? Fair enough given how useless LMCs so often are. Slavering BMA lapdogs.