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GP ‘exonerated’ after five-year period of investigations into patient death

GP ‘exonerated’ after five-year period of investigations into patient death

A GP has been ‘exonerated’ following a series of investigations spanning five years which related to a patient death. 

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) said today that it had ‘successfully’ defended its GP member, who had faced a complaint, claim, NHS England investigation, and a GMC investigation. 

Although the GMC investigation reached the stage of ‘formal allegations’, the GP was cleared before the case went to tribunal. 

After a patient had died from cancer, the family complained to the practice and then went on to make a claim for clinical negligence.

The GP, who is a partner and trainer at a large practice in England, told the MDU Journal that the family dropped the claim after five years, but then made a complaint about him to the GMC who informed NHS England. 

He also pointed out that he was one of several doctors who had seen the patient, and he had in fact recognised there was ‘cause for concern’ and ordered tests. 

Describing the impact of the five-year investigation period, the GP said it was ‘a very, very rough time’.

‘I’m normally thorough, but I was conscious of being extra careful with everything I did because I felt like I had another pair of eyes watching me.’

‘As a doctor it’s very scary to be the subject of a fitness-to-practise investigation, and after everything I went through, it’s still the thing I worry about the most,’ he added.

‘Sadly, I think doctors who have experiences like mine could easily feel they’ve had enough and leave the profession.’

MDU deputy head of advisory services Dr Catherine Willis said the investigations ‘cast a long shadow’ over the GP’s professional and personal life.

She said: ‘While it’s right that doctors remain accountable for their actions or omissions, it’s hard to think of another profession in which an individual can face so many investigations into one incident.

‘This inevitably takes its toll on the doctor involved and we encourage any member who becomes aware of a concern to contact us at the earliest opportunity.’

Last year, the Medical Protection Society highlighted that just over four in ten GPs under GMC investigation reported suicidal thoughts, and nearly half considered quitting medicine as a result of the process.

The regulator recently relaxed its fitness to practise processes for doctors so that ‘minor’ concerns such as ‘pushing a colleague’ are not taken to tribunal. 

This was part of efforts to carry out ‘more efficient and proportionate investigations’ and to ‘minimise’ stress for doctors during the FTP process.



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

Liquorice Root- Bitter and Twisted. 9 April, 2024 8:40 am

Such a pity we are unable to counter- sue for vexatious actions.

Jonathan Heatley 9 April, 2024 5:08 pm

You have my complete sympathy -I have just come out from under a 27 month investigation instigated by nurses with no patient complaint or harm. Like you I was practising feeling someone was looking over my shoulder and criticising me the whole 27 months. After over 300 emails and a lot of stress it was thrown out. Just imagine the waste of resources! I wrote it up and sent it to pulse as a warning to other GPs out there but Pulse were not interested.

Just Your Average Joe 9 April, 2024 5:33 pm

1st GMC should be funded by NHS not Doctors – as its only purpose is to torment and torture Doctors if any allegations are ever made – whether vexatious, unproven or just slander. I accept there are a minority of bad Doctors including GPs who have done something wrong and need appropriate sanctions/punishment.

2nd – if the GMC pursues a case and the Doctor is not found guilty – then they should be exonerated and paid compensation for the dragging them through the process unnecessarily – paid for by the DOH – not other members stolen fees..

As soon as the GMC stops pretending it has anything positive to give/add for doctors, then it can continue on its real agenda persecuting doctors, protecting patients.