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A groundless complaint completely derailed my GP career

I completed my training in 2006. After several locum jobs and working in out-of-hours, I was happy to get a salaried position at a GP practice in the south of England, with an option to become a partner.

However, after only a week in the job, I was informed by the partners that they had serious concerns about my safety as a GP and they were terminating my contract immediately. My face must have been a picture of total incredulity and surprise.

The next thing I knew was a letter from the PCT, a couple of days later, with notice of temporary suspension of my performer’s licence and explaining I had been reported to the Performer’s Board for investigation. It also came as a total surprise to me, as it was never mentioned by the partners that they were referring my case anywhere.

There were three months in which I had to find evidence of my actions (lucky for me, I keep comprehensive records), support for my decisions, and advice from my defense union, which reviewed any correspondence related to my case. When I saw finally a copy of the complaint against me, it suggested that I could be mentally ill.

When the Performers Panel finally took place, I had the support of my trainer, and, bizarrely, also one of the panel members. She excused herself from participating in the decision, but explained I had worked as a locum in her surgery and had excellent feedback from patients, colleagues and admin team. I had also letters of support from my locum agency, and one of the surgeries where I was working as a locum.

In the end, I was cleared of all charges, and all suggestions about my mental health were refuted. I was requested, by the panel, to take a ‘communications skills’ course – which I enjoyed very much – but the impact on my life was dramatic.

After being reinstated, I did not find another locum job for the following two months. I lost several months of income, and this affected my family’s financial security.

As a foreign citizen, I also ran the risk of my refused my Tier 1 visa renewal being removed.

The out-of-hours service requested that I had to do a new application with all the involved paperwork and certifications.

And my self-esteem suffered very badly, with my self-confidence taking more than a year to return.

Over time, I learned to work despite the fear of being reported or complained about, something in the back of the mind of every doctor working in Britain today. Is very sad that our practice has to be guided by fear, and by patient’s extortion when their demands are not met.

I still soldier on, guided by the Hippocratic principles of honesty and fairness, and above all, the best interest of my patients. I am still a human being, but a worried and slightly afraid one.

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