For immediate release: Friday, 4 December 2015
Doctors facing a GMC complaint are urged to seek the guidance and support of their medical defence organisation at the earliest opportunity.
UK-wide medical defence organisation MDDUS is issuing the advice in light of recent reports on the worrying number of doctors committing suicide while under GMC fitness to practise investigation.
The issue was highlighted in a recent review published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine and follows on from a GMC report that found 28 doctors committed suicide or suspected suicide while under investigation by the regulator between 2005 and 2013.
As a result, the GMC are looking to introduce measures to support doctors facing investigation and only yesterday announced the appointment of one of the UK’s leading mental health experts Professor Louis Appleby to assess the regulator’s fitness to practise process and provide independent advice on how to support vulnerable doctors.
NHS England has also announced that it would establish a new occupational health service for GPs suffering from burnout and stress.
“MDDUS urge all doctors who receive a letter of complaint from the GMC to contact their defence organisation without delay and they will provide guidance through all the steps of the process,” said MDDUS Joint Head of Medical Division Dr Anthea Martin.
“Being on the receiving end of a GMC complaint can be extremely stressful and it is natural for doctors to fear the worst. While it is understandable to worry, in our experience very few GMC cases make it beyond written correspondence.
“Doctors can rely on MDDUS to provide support and advice in an increasingly tough environment where claims and GMC referrals continue to rise.
“Our team of medical advisers and lawyers have vast experience in assisting doctors with the stresses of being under investigation. Doctors are renowned for being resilient, but should not face the stresses of a GMC complaint on their own.”
Doctors may receive a letter from the GMC regarding allegations made about their professional conduct or clinical competency and the regulator may invite you to respond to these allegations.
“In these circumstances, doctors should not be tempted to formulate a response on their own,” said Dr Martin. “They should contact MDDUS without delay, it is crucial that doctors seek advice before responding to the letter.”
Of the 8,884 complaints received by the GMC in 2014, 30 per cent (2,750) went to a full investigation but, of those, more than half (51 per cent) were closed with no further action.
For all the other complaints (6,134) dealt with by the regulator, 89 per cent (5,500) were closed immediately.
“MDDUS reported a small increase in the number of members subject to investigation by the GMC in 2014, up 7 per cent on the previous year,” said Dr Martin. “We are seeing a greater proportion of those investigations concluded without referral to a fitness to practise hearing.”
For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0845 270 2034 or 07976 272266, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to editors
MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK.
For further information on MDDUS go to www.mddus.com.
This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.