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I blame the GMC for the failure of the no-blame culture

Dr Pete Deveson BLOG duo_3x2

Bad news for the future of the profession, as the latest RMBF survey reveals 67% of doctors would not recommend a career in medicine to their children. Personally, I’m in the 33%; every so often one of my kids will pull a stunt so egregious that a mere grounding won’t cut it in terms of punishment, and a dastardly long-game revenge suggests itself instead.

I picture myself smiling mysteriously as I Christmas wrap their Little Tikes Operating Sets, grammar-check their UCAS forms and ferry them to interviews, and then one day, years from now, they’ll get a fast bleep in the dead of night: ‘Hello, is that the on call? I’ve got a message from your dad – he says he always knew it was you who scratched the car that time in 2016 and he wants you to know you’re all square now.’

I’m joking of course (as if my wife would ever let me do the Christmas wrapping lol), but what makes more sense as an explanation for the perennially-unsafe working conditions of a modern junior NHS doctor – is it a logically structured and properly resourced system for creating a new generation of happy well-adjusted professionals, or some kind of diabolical Naughty Step of Monte Cristo?

The actions of the GMC give the lie to all Jeremy Hunt’s fine talk about fostering a no-blame culture

Consider the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, whose human errors while trying her best in a failing system contributed to the tragic death of an unwell child. Having been convicted of manslaughter and suspended from practice, she is now the subject of a Gollum-esque high court dispute between the GMC and its alter ego the MPTS (Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service) as to whether she should be permanently struck off.

There are remarkable similarities with the treatment of Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, the coincidentally hijab-wearing paediatrician many believe was scapegoated in the Baby P case, who was simultaneously deemed guilty of incompetence by the GMC and of being brown in charge of a medical degree by the tabloid press and its knuckle-dragging below-the-line commentariat.

To me, the actions of the GMC against Dr Bawa-Garba give the lie to all Jeremy Hunt’s fine talk about fostering a no-blame culture, but what can we do about this?

Well, you could take the time to familiarise yourself with the case, and if you agree with me that the GMC is acting unfairly by pushing for Dr Bawa-Garba to be erased from the register, please sign the petition in her support. It’s one little step towards creating a medical profession you might envisage your children aspiring to join.

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson