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GPs ‘practise in fear’ due to GMC, LMCs say

The GMC has created a climate where GPs ‘practise in fear’ and should put a duty to protect and support GPs under investigation on a par with their duty to protect patients.

GP leaders at the annual LMCs conference in London today voted unanimously that the GMC’s regulatory processes were damaging care by making GPs more risk averse.

Although Scottish LMCs had already voted in favour of this motion, the UK wide vote also commits the GPC to raise this with the GMC, including pushing for the full adoption of the recommendations of an independent report into the GMC Fitness to Practise processes.

The report into 114 suicides of doctors under Fitness to Practise processes by Sarndrah Horsfall called for a national pastoral support service to be set up for doctors under investigation, amongst other recommendations.

Pulse has been campaigning for greater support for  GPs through its Battling Burnout campaign, and  revealed last month that new GMC chair… had called for a scheme similar to London’s Practitioner Health Programme.

Speaking in response to the motion today, GPC negotiator Dr Dean Marshall revealed that implementing the support service had stalled because ‘they don’t think they should pay for it’.

But he added that the GMC have begun improving their FTP processes, including training their staff to recognise extreme stress in doctors, and reviewing the ‘tone of voice’ of communications.’

The motion also called for ‘GPs being investigated for alleged misdemeanors should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise’, and all parts were passed unanimously.

Proposing the motion Dr John Ip from Glasgow LMC told delegates: ‘At hearings, the GMC invariably presses for the harshest penalties, sometimes regardless of the evidence.

‘And when there is no case to answer after the protracted proceedings, it is exceptional for there to be any apology or explanation, by the GMC to those doctors whose lives have been turned upside down.’

‘Is it any wonder that the manner in which GMC chooses to investigate these doctors, together with the shameful absence of a comprehensive occupational health service, has both tragic and devastating consequences.’

Motion in full

AGENDA COMMITTEE to be proposed by the SCOTTISH CONFERENCE OF LMCs: That conference:
                (i)    believes that the GMC is creating a climate where doctors practice in fear for their registration
                (ii)   demands that GPs being investigated for alleged misdemeanours should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise
                (iii)  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’.