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Niall Dickson: ‘We want to make our procedures as low stress as we can’

We know that some doctors who come into our procedures have very serious health concerns, including those who have had ideas of committing suicide.

We know too that for any doctor, being investigated by the GMC is a stressful experience and very often follows other traumas in their lives. Our first duty must, of course, be to protect patients but we are determined to do everything we can to make sure we handle these cases as sensitively as possible, to ensure the doctors are being supported locally and to reduce the impact of our procedures.

Although a referral to the GMC will always be a difficult and anxious time for the doctor involved, we want to handle complaints as effectively as possible and ensure our processes are as quick, simple and as low stress as we can make them.  We have made some progress on this but we have more to do, and that includes securing legal reform.

We will now review our current process for dealing with doctors with health problems and identify any further changes that may be needed.

We do recognise that doctors need to be able to access appropriate support when they are not well, and that doctors may have particular needs in their dealings with mental health and other services. The independent review recommends the establishment of a National Support Service for doctors.

Although this is not a matter for us we will convene a meeting in the New Year to bring together those who have an interest and expertise in this area.

Niall Dickson is chair of the GMC