Anonymous GP posted July 2014:
'I had dealings with the GMC when I was severely depressed and had been under so much stress at work that I had intended to kill myself. Instead I went off sick and sought help. I survived and was punished. The sense of shame is awful and I can't begin to explain what it was like to go through the GMC process when suffering with mental health problems. I already felt that I had let everyone down and then the GMC process reinforced my sick view. I shall never get over it. A proper legal process would have been fairer. At no point did anyone question the motives of the referrer, indeed the GMC specifically said that was not within their remit. I had to attend an interim orders panel pending investigation and later worked with undertakings. The investigation took 9 months and then I had to serve a 'sentence' of over 2 years before the final procedure to let me go started. The case examiner deciding on the timing of this applied guidance to me that was relevant for doctors with drug and alcohol problems though I had neither and did so despite recommendations from my medical supervisors to the contrary. The GMC letter telling me I had at least another 6 months to serve ended with 'if you have any questions etc' . I broke down in tears and shouted 'Yes, I have a question, What about me?' I had already learned though, as the presumed guilty accused, not to phone the GMC. My medical defence union gave me advice at the outset to keep my head down and jump through the hoops in order to get out of the other side as quickly as possible. When I signed my undertakings for continued supervision I had been advised by my solicitor that if I asserted that I was now well then
the view would be taken that I must in fact be ill and lacking in insight and would therefore most likely be referred to a Fitness To Practice panel. I could not have survived that. Today I read the Civitas report and BMJ article on the GMC and found that my experience was not unique and a bit more healing has happened. I am here to write this- many are not.'
Doctors who have committed suicide..
October 2013 suicide fraud allegation made against 53 yo NHS GP Dr Allim. She was publicly shamed by police who entered her GP surgery to arrest her in front of her patients! NHSE were investigating her along with police. She stated in her suicide note she could not face enduring years of an enquiry. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2581009/GP-killed-bath-fraud-arrest.html.
Feb 2013 suicide/depression overcame a 53 yo NHS GP Martin Bell. http://www.essexchronicle.co.uk/GP-took-life-admitting-suicidal-thoughts/story-19631858-detail/story.html.
Sept 2012 age 51 NHS GP John King commits suicide. http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2013/03/19/perfect-family-gp-killed-himself-after-sons-kidney-failure/.
June 2012 age 26 NHS GP Elizabeth Foubister hanged herself. Thought text message was break up. Stressed from NHS work. http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/9941517.Doctor_killed_herself_after_partner_sent_an_angry_text/.
Feb 2012 NHS GP Festus Ojagbemi aged 49 hanged himself. Feared double life exposure. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9591098/Suicide-of-GP-who-led-secret-double-life-with-two-women.html.
Feb 2012 53 yo NHS GP David John Weddell took a lethal overdose at a Hilton Hotel. Sometimes worked 7 days a week! Worked to death. http://www.bromsgrovestandard.co.uk/2012/06/27/news-Coroner-describes-popular-Rubery-GP-as-remarkable-42553.html.
Dec 2006 47 yo locum NHS GP David Scarfe faced a large tax bill and divorce, self asphyxiated with a plastic bag. http://www.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk/news/1624975.depressed_gp_killed_himself/.
May 2006 46 yo GP Mark Gradwell jumped in front of train. Being investigated by PCT. http://www.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk/news/1624975.depressed_gp_killed_himself/.
Jan 2005 45 yo NHS ICU doctor slit his own throat. Dr Andrew Scott had burned out. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2005/jun/01/nhsstaff.health.
10 tips on handling a GMC complaint (especially if malicious/vexatious)
What happens if you are fortunate and your MDO agrees to provide you legal assistance? Be prepared to hear them suggest you reply with 'no comment.' You may be flummoxed, as it may make you appear guilty with such a terse reply but there is method to the madness. The MDO will look at the GMC complaint and may have decided there is no evidence to substantiate the string of allegations so yes, 'no comment' becomes the best defence.
Advice for the GMC
Provide a lawyer for all doctors facing a FTP trial. MDOs may exercise discretion not to provide a doctor with legal support.
No penalties for wasting GMC time and resources so serial complainants may continue to put in frivolous complaints
If a member of public decides to appeal a traffic conviction and then loses, he or she has to pay court expenses. Why is it that a member of public or institution may refer a doctor directly to the GMC behind their back and when the complaint is found to be groundless, lacking in evidence, unsubstantiated, etc., the GMC expense is subsumed in the annual subs paid by doctors, and not by the complainant, and the doctor is out of pocket for loss of income and personal legal expenses not covered by their own medical defence organisation?
Even the police may charge members of the public for wasting police time and impose a fine and/or 6 months imprisonment. 'In England and Wales, one can be charged with the offence under Section 5(2) of the Criminal Law Act 1967 when one "causes any wasteful employment of the police" by "knowingly making to any person a false report".'
Without any comeback on members of public who make complaints (who are not even the doctor's patient) or institutions who may waste GMC's time and money, these complaints may continue to flood the GMC and may be another reason why our nation is haemorrhaging its finest doctors.
The GMC has an online complaint feature on its main webpage and may even confer anonymity to any complainant, even if the complainant is not a patient of the doctor and has never met the doctor! This suggests that any member of the public may 'waste' the GMC's time by clicking online complaint and make up false allegations of any doctor for whatever motive, whether it be public trolling, trust management trying to get rid of a whistleblower, ex partners, ex employees, ex girl friends, etc. I would suggest the GMC may wish to address these flaws in process.
No redress or compensation for innocent doctors
Conferring anonymity to complainants who may never have met the doctor appears to defy the laws of natural justice, the right to face one's accuser to cross examine.
Advice for Maureen Baker and the RCGP
Please do not refer GP members to the GMC without abiding by the GMC's Code of Good Medical Practice working with colleagues and sitting down with the GP. The GMC must not be used as a commercial weapon to intimidate a private course competitor.
Thank you for paying for mediation with a QC in 2009 but I was saddened to receive further formal complaints from the RCGP in 2013-14 for donating to Bapio's fight against discrimination against IMGs, for raising money for a jobless single mother IMG GP trainee and for blogging and tweeting (raising awareness) about the effects of unconscious bias in a subjective exam in which good doctors of colour may have been failed and was denied any informal meeting or mediation with you now as RCGP Chair and Prof Nigel Sparrow as the current RCGP Secretary. Intimidation through formal complaints and disciplinaries are not on! If IMGs are not made to feel welcome by their own college of GPs, they may join the Australian College and work in peace without fear of GMC complaints from institutions.
In memory of the NHS doctors who took their lives either due to a GMC referral or being worked to death...