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Hundreds of doctors mistakenly told they faced fitness-to-practise investigation by GMC

Exclusive GMC chief executive Niall Dickson is to apologise after more than 200 GPs and other doctors were mistakenly sent letters from the regulator informing them they were subject to disciplinary investigation in 2010.

The blunder occurred when the GMC wrote this week to 2,500 doctors who were investigated by the GMC last year, asking them to offer feedback on the process.

Due to what the GMC described as a ‘clerical error’, the letter was accidentally sent to 209 doctors who had not been investigated.

A GP in Shropshire, who asked not to be named, told Pulse he understood he was one of several to have phone the GMC in anger after receiving the letter at his home address.

The letter said: ‘The GMC wants to explore the experience of doctors who have been through a fitness-to-practise procedure in 2010.’

‘Research will be conducted with a sample of doctors.’

The GP, who is due to retire shortly after a 40-year career, said he was alarmed to have received the  ‘very upsetting’ letter, and furious at the mistake.

‘I have never been in any kind of disciplinary trouble before,’ he said. ‘It’s absolutely disgraceful.’

On phoning the GMC to clarify why he had been sent the letter, an official told him a series of doctors had called to complain, the GP added.

‘She told me she had had a number of other phone calls from other distressed doctors,’ he said.

Mr Dickson told Pulse he would be writing to all the doctors involved to apologise.

‘We are committed to improving the way we handle complaints about doctors. To help us do that we have just written to all 2,500 doctors who had been investigated by us and whose case was closed during 2010,’ he said.

‘We asked them if they would be willing to take part in a survey about their experience of our of fitness-to-practise procedures. Unfortunately as a result of a clerical error 209 doctors who had not been investigated were included in this mailing.’

‘I am very sorry for the upset that receiving one of these letters may have caused.’

A GMC spokesperson said the addresses came from their in-house Siebel database, and was due to a clerical error in sending out the letters rather than a problem with the regulator’s records.

Doctors’ personal information and contact details would not be passed to the market research company employed by the GMC to carry out the feedback exercise until the doctor had consented to participate, she added.