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GMC ‘creating a climate of fear’, local GP leaders say

The GMC is creating a climate ‘where doctors practise in fear of their registration’, Scottish GP leaders said today.

Delegates at the Scottish LMCs Conference in Glasgow today voted in favour of a motion criticising the regulator, despite opposition from a GPC negotiator.

However, the conference voted down a motion expressing concern that the GMC was failing doctors, and that the fitness-to-practise process was ‘intrusive and inhumane’.

The conference voted in favour of the statement that ‘the GMC is creating a climate where doctors practise in fear for their registration’.

It also called on the GMC to allow Scotland-based doctors to attend FTP proceedings in Scotland, without the need to travel to Manchester.

Dr John Ip, proposing the motion, said: ‘I am not arguing against effective and robust regulation. The public needs doctors who are properly trained and of good quality.

‘However, I think the GMC is failing doctors and the public by creating a culture of fear in how doctors work… The FTP process is harsh, legalistic, formulaic and lacks compassion.’

He added that the process was especially intrusive for doctors with health problems, who would have to submit ‘full confidential medical records or otherwise face a negative impact on the case’.

Dr Ip referenced the GMC-commissioned report that found there had been 26 suicides of doctors going through FTP cases, which recommended a support service for sick doctors and a move towards an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach.

But Dr Dean Marshall, a GPC executive member, urged delegates to reject the main part, and said that the cost of moving FTP proceedings up to Scotland would be prohibitively expensive, which would be reflected in fees.

He added: ‘The [FTP] is a fair process, it is tiring, it is stressful, but it is not inhumane or intrusive.

‘It is not the GMC that is creating the climate of fear – that is patients, lawyers, and various others.’

Motion in full

That this conference:

i.   believes that doctors in Scotland should be entitled to attend fitness to practise proceedings at a venue within Scotland PASSED

ii.   believes that the GMC approach to fitness to practise is intrusive and inhumane FAILED

iii.   believes that the GMC is creating a climate where doctors practise in fear for their registration PASSED

iv.   is concerned that the GMC is failing doctors FAILED

v.   demands that the GMC implement the recommendations of the independent report by Sarndrah Horsfall, Doctors who commit suicide while under GMC fitness to practise investigation. PASSED


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