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Laptop case ‘damaged’ GMC work to build trust with BAME doctors, says chief exec

Laptop case ‘damaged’ GMC work to build trust with BAME doctors, says chief exec

Exclusive The controversial case in which a GP was accused of dishonesty after saying she had been ‘promised’ a laptop ‘damaged’ GMC efforts to build trust with BAME doctors, its chief executive has said.

Last week, a review into the GMC’s handling of the case found that the allegations should never have reached the regulator, but that there was ‘no clear or conclusive evidence’ for bias in the case.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, GMC chief executive and registrar Charlie Massey said that the level of ‘concern’ about whether or not the case ‘was affected by the doctor’s ethnicity’ was ‘one of the reasons’ why he commissioned the review.

He told Pulse that he wanted to ‘demonstrate an openness to learning’ to ethnic minority doctors.

He added: ‘Obviously, on the one hand, I was pleased that [the review] found that there was no evidence of bias in this case. 

‘But I would be completely mistaken to believe that therefore this hasn’t damaged our desire to build confidence in us as a regulator amongst doctors from ethnic minorities.’

Mr Massey told Pulse that the ‘discriminatory’ health system is ‘a massive issue’ and ‘frankly just wrong’ – and that he is ‘100% committed to pushing the agenda’ of building trust from BAME doctors. 

He added: ‘I hope that doctors and others can see the extent of our efforts, not just in terms of the level of ambition that we set for ourselves in eliminating disproportionality in fitness to practise and eliminating those gaps in differential attainment, which is a very ambitious commitment, but also the steps that we’ve been taking to achieve that.’ 

Mr Massey also told Pulse that he ‘can’t really do much’ about the fact that ‘difficult’ fitness to practise cases involving a doctor from an ethnic minority ‘will often create an impression of bias’ in the GMC’s processes.

But he said that the regulator must be ‘straightforward in apologising’ where it has made a mistake and ‘show some humility’ – to restore confidence not only among BAME colleagues but among all doctors.

He said: ‘I hope the fact that we’re being so straightforward in admitting that we got this wrong and apologising for that will give doctors some assurance that we are actively seeking out lessons from our own cases and taking action on the back of them.’

‘Obviously, there’s a question about how people can have confidence in how we manage cases that are referred to us. I’ve already spoken about my desire that we resolve more of those cases locally, I think success will look like fewer cases coming into our fitness-to-practise processes, more cases being resolved through engagement with employers locally.’

He added that he hopes he is ‘able to give some assurance that we’re going to be doing more that will help us stop things entering our processes’ and that cases that do proceed into hearings are handled in the right way – but that ‘the proof of the pudding will be in the eating’. 

Mr Massey also told Pulse that it ‘would be wrong to say’ there is a ‘quick fix’, but that there are changes that the GMC ‘should be making in the here and now’.

He added that audits on the regulator’s processes are ‘important’ but ‘not enough’ to tackle the issue of bias and that ‘training’ for its staff might be needed.

The GMC is currently conducting another review into ‘regulatory fairness’ that will set out more detailed plans and is expected for publication next month, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Massey told Pulse that no heads will roll as a consequence of the mistake made in Dr Arora’s case as this would be counterproductive.

He said: ‘We’re not going to learn the lessons if the immediate thing we turn to is fear and blame, there’s quite enough of that around elsewhere. That’s not my approach or style.

‘If I was to start with the presumption that a head would roll when we made a mistake, what I would be doing would be to be embedding cultures and processes that actually didn’t enable people to raise issues or concerns.’ 

He added: ‘We’re all human. We can all make mistakes. The issue is about how we behave when mistakes are made.’

The controversial laptop case

The MPTS had suspended Dr Manjula Arora for a month for ‘dishonesty’ earlier this year after she told an IT department she had been ‘promised’ a laptop. The tribunal said that she had ‘exaggerated’ these claims, and as a result found that her fitness to practise was impaired.

But the GMC effectively overturned the ruling in June, saying the dishonesty test was ‘incorrectly’ applied. And it announced that it would undertake a review into its handling of the case following an outcry from across the profession.

Previously, Mr Massey said that he ‘completely understood’ concerns that the suspension of a GP for ‘dishonesty’ over a laptop was ‘disproportionate and over-the-top’.

And in July, Pulse revealed that the case cost almost £40,000, not including the costs incurred by Dr Arora herself.



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

Gabor Szekely 7 November, 2022 10:57 am

‘We’re all human. We can all make mistakes. The issue is about how we behave when mistakes are made.’
So, this article implies that it is acceptable for the GMC to shrug its proverbial shoulders and offer a cheap apology for its “error”, while contemperaneously an unknown number of our profession (“the regulated”), and their dependents, continue to cower in the shadows, in fear of their professional and even physical well-being awaiting the random dictats of this iniquitous body and its kangaroo courts. A very fair system……I don’t think.

Not on your Nelly 7 November, 2022 11:14 am

So no change then…

Vaiyapuri Raja 7 November, 2022 12:06 pm

Yup, no changes, but free laptops for the inconvenience and to prevent another laptop case!

Decorum Est 7 November, 2022 12:13 pm

The GMC and its advocates are complicit in bringing healthcare provision to its knee in 21st century UK. It’s simultaneously a Machiavellian and Spanish-Inquisition like organisation that spouts self-justifying crap, while ignoring basic human-rights and law.

Slobber Dog 7 November, 2022 2:34 pm

I struggled to control the nausea I felt while reading this article.

Cameron Wilson 7 November, 2022 6:20 pm

Trust? You’re having a laugh! GMC Agenda is about self protection and no way should we be paying for the privilege of this lot scrutinising our efforts! When the cards are on the table, we are just fodder,remember tho,you don’t fool us!!

Patrufini Duffy 7 November, 2022 6:20 pm

Kept your job – that is good. That is all that matters. Keep it hush hush, and sweet – the torture never happened.
But – the carnage and gutter is coming to your own doors now.

Long Gone 8 November, 2022 12:16 pm

So we have swivel-eyed regulation from the GMC, a malicious peanut gallery with added vitriol from the CQC, media vilification on a rota, political interference based on ignorance, unachievable targets, inane and insane input from NHSE, pensions that virtually mandate early retirement…. The list is unending. And still we try to battle through and deliver care.

No problem though – the LibDems will set a patient’s “right to be seen” within certain time limits and precious little understanding of the multiple simultaneous levers that have to pulled very hard and very quickly to even have a hope of recruiting and retaining sufficient capacity to deliver those rights.
Madness, sheer madness.

Patrufini Duffy 8 November, 2022 2:19 pm

If Pulse can organise a Xmas selfie with Massey, Kanani, Waller, Field, Hunt, Benneyworth, Hancock, Coffey, Waller, Madan and about 147 other “leaders” and a few American corporates. Then that would certainly exude positive jeer, hope and belief and ripe end to a beautiful reflective year.

Truth Finder 8 November, 2022 4:17 pm

Sickening nonsense again. Professionals should never be led by people who are not in their profession. Nobody has any confidence in the GMC. The jobs worth. Things need to change.

The Last of the mohicans 10 November, 2022 6:15 pm

Utterly sad and pathetic that thus case went anywhere at all, least of all to the GMC.
This beggars the question about who referred this doctor to the GMC in the first place ?
What utterly small minded individual with nothing better to do started this process ? Or was it an ‘organisation’?
Sadly so called ‘colleagues’ are sometimes involved. The GMC can be a weapon in the hands of a disgruntled co-worker. Colleagues I know have encouraged patients to escalate complaints to the GMC presumably to cause more problems for the doctor.
Sad, but true. The caring profession indeed.

John Evans 11 November, 2022 10:42 am

“You are all equally worthless”

To both Gunnery Sgt Hartmann (Stanley Kubrick’s -Full Metal Jacket).
and the insincere toads at the GMC.

They are just trying to be ‘nice enough’ to limit their blame should the 2 decades of oppression finally destroy primary care. It is a sign of how fragile the situation is.