Don’t deal with GMC/GDC alone

Doctors and dentists should resist the temptation to respond to GMC or GDC correspondence on their own.

IF there is one thing that is likely to raise stress levels for doctors and dentists, it is the arrival of an official letter from their regulatory body. Receiving correspondence from the General Medical Council or General Dental Council can be an unwelcome experience – but it is crucial that you seek advice from MDDUS before responding.

There are various reasons why a regulator might get in touch, but the one most likely to cause anxiety is notification that a complaint has been made against you. Allegations may have been made about your professional conduct or clinical competency and the GMC or GDC may invite you to respond to these allegations.

In these circumstances, doctors and dentists should not be tempted to formulate a response on their own. You should contact MDDUS without delay as timescales can be tight.

Correspondence at such an early stage in the complaints process may not seem significant, but it is important to remember that anything you write or say to the GMC or GDC may ultimately end up before a fitness to practice panel or investigating committee.

The contents of any response you make to a complaint will be assessed to determine whether you are making an admission and what insight you have into the allegations raised against you. And an ill-judged response – whether in a letter, email or phone call – could ultimately prove damaging for you at a later stage in the process.

MDDUS would always advise members who are asked to respond to a complaint to contact our team of advisers first. This will allow a medico- or dento-legal adviser to offer appropriate legal advice from the start about how to reply. In some cases, a reply may not be necessary or in more complex cases, it may even be necessary for MDDUS to instruct a solicitor to draft a response on a member’s behalf.

A trawl through MDDUS files highlights cases handled by MDDUS where members have not taken advice on how to respond to the GMC or GDC and their response has gone on to have a negative impact on their case.

MDDUS frequently helps doctors and dentists deal with this kind of issue – this is part of the benefits of your membership. Indeed, in recent years there has been an increasing number of doctors and dentists being referred to the GMC and GDC as complaints become a normal part of medical and dental practice.

ACTION Always contact MDDUS without delay for help in responding to correspondence from the GMC or GDC.