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Stop making examples of doctors, BMA ARM tells GMC

GMC reform

Doctors have demanded the GMC stops imposing fitness-to-practise sanctions ‘on vulnerable doctors in order to send a message to the wider medical profession’.

The motion passed at the BMA’s annual representative meeting yesterday also urged the doctors’ regulator to ‘commit to trauma-informed practice, recognising the impact of their investigations on subjects’.

And, in order to ‘conduct all investigations in a more timely manner than is currently the case’, it should ‘focus investigations on referrals alleging significant breaches of Good Medical Practice’, doctors urged.

Proposing the motion, Dr Tamasin Knight said: ‘This is a matter of life and death, as the GMC’s own report showed five doctors died by suicide while under GMC investigation between 2018 and 2020. 

The motion also said the GMC should focus their FtP investigations on ‘direct fact finding’ rather than third-party contributions.

Past GMC council member Dr Surendra Kumar, who served as chair of the GMC’s fitness-to-practise panel for 14 years, spoke in favour of the motion but said ‘it really doesn’t go far enough’.

Dr Kumar said: ‘I’m afraid GMC tends to prosecute doctors on the basis of third party evidence from so-called experts sitting in their ivory towers, who perhaps only see and deal with maybe three to four patients in a week, compared with doctors in question who are seeing and dealing with massive workloads.’

And he added: ‘I haven’t seen any evidence that GMC has any measures in place to help and support either the doctors or their families.’ 

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘The entire system really is weighted against doctors… the adversarial prosecutory approach is actually based around a triumph of winning a case without any consideration of the human elements or actually trying to discover the truth. It’s about winning. 

‘The entire system needs an overhaul and this is not up to the GMC to change. I believe it needs a change in the Medical Act. It needs a root and branch review. And that is what we’re calling for.’

Earlier this week, GMC effectively overturned a decision to suspend a doctor who said she had been ‘promised’ a laptop as the dishonesty test was ‘incorrectly’ applied in her case.

The GMC will also carry out a wider review into the suspension, focusing on how the case was allowed to get to that stage, and said findings will be published in September.

Doctors groups had reacted angrily to the MPTS’s judgement, saying that a suspension was disproportionate, with the BMA demanding an overhaul of GMC processes after the ‘incomprehensible’ ruling.

Motion in full:

Motion by CONSULTANTS CONFERENCE: That this meeting calls on the BMA to demand that the GMC fitness to practice procedures:- 

i) focus investigations on referrals alleging significant breaches of Good Medical Practice; 

ii) conduct all investigations in a more timely manner than is currently the case – PASSED

iii) do not impose sanctions on vulnerable doctors in order to send a message to the wider medical profession – PASSED

iv) commit to trauma-informed practice, recognising the impact of their investigations on subjects – PASSED

v) commit to, at the very least, direct fact finding with the subjects of their investigations rather than relying entirely on 3rd party contributions to make their decisions – PASSED

Source: BMA

READERS' COMMENTS [1]

Long Gone 6 July, 2022 9:14 am

There’s a wealth of evidence based argument against the current system set out by Matthew Syed in Black Box Thinking. We are embarrassingly total laggards in comparison with the air transport industry. Hang ‘em high does not work to raise standards. Because it leads to fear-driven concealment of errors and all learning and progress is buried. Open reflection and correction is not “going soft”. It is much harder than witch hunts, lynch mobs and the circular firing squad.