Health CommitteeWritten evidence from Doctors4Justice (GMC 05)
Doctors4Justice is a political pressure group. We help doctors, patients, and public.
1(a) Before law we are supposed to be equal. This is not the case in how GMC treats complainants. When members of public complain to GMC they are more likely to disregard their complaints because they lack institutional power. It is not difficult to understand that a person who lost a loved one due to medical negligence or error would focus on emotional aspects in their complaint and not on bureaucratic language or law.
Recommendation: independent random sampling of complaints and GMC’s responses.
1(b) We are pleased to see that Parliamentary Health Select Committee has conducted very patiently (well, most of the time, in our opinion) their inquiries into regulation of health sector and that constructive actions were taken to improve some rather serious deficiencies. One of the radical changes made has been to appoint an independent judge to Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), his Honour Mr David Pearl. Only today he would have received one thick file of evidence against one of the General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practice Panellists Dr Peter Jefferys with evidence of attempted fraud, long term bullying, formulation of policy of indirect racial discrimination, abuse of process and power and so on. GMC has resisted for years to examine the evidence against him and do what they must but do not like doing. It remains to be seen if his Honour David Pearl is capable of independence and we shall know that quite soon, we think.
Recommendation: to check on this one because of the extensive evidence submitted to GMC.
Conflicts of Interests
2. The problem for at last 150 (one hundred and fifty) years for medical regulation has been that of self-interest. Everybody knows that self-regulation is problematic but medical regulator who has not to the best of our knowledge made sure that every single member of staff knows not just the dictionary definition of conflict of interests but knows that it is not enough to just declare some interests but actually regulator has to assess the potential conflicts of interests and cancel appointments of those who are in too many places consolidating power for themselves and against public interest. It is not compatible to sit at several regulators, judge doctors, and judge patients’ complaints for Parliamentary Health Ombudsman, judge barristers as well as sit on NHS boards as director. One of FTP panellists sat regulating no less than eighteen different professions. This is obsessive compulsive behaviour one finds in bullies.
Recommendation: for GMC to employ external person who can actually examine conflicts of interests and GMC to take action on conflicts which may include terminating some contracts of FTP panellists.
Medical Directors and Whistle Blowers
3. We noticed that chair of PHSC asked very nicely GMC’s CEO if they took any action against medical directors who retaliated against whistle blowers. The response from CEO, Mr Niall Dickson was; “One or two”. Well, the truth is, of course, that we monitor what GMC says to Parliament and then what they actually do. GMC just continued on their path of wilful blindness and refused to investigate wrongdoing when substantial evidence was sent to them. To make the matters worse they even extended contracts beyond appointed time to some ruthless FTP panellists responsible for at least a dozen deaths. Yes, this is the truth.
4. GMC broke a number of laws so often we have actually lost count. One of the typical responses when they are in the wrong is to hide it, avoid giving straight answers and just expose themselves to more scrutiny from more regulators as the result. GMC have never in their whole history trained their Fitness to Practice Panellists on the issues of disclosures in public interests. Despite all the efforts of various lawyers, all of those reports in the case of Dr Shipman written by Dame Janet Smith, GMC managed to hang onto their ignorance. Medical profession does not really want whistle blowers who are perceived as traitors. Dysfunctional secrecy kills people today as it did in the past.
Recommendations: spot exams of FTP panellists on human rights issues.
Breaches of Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000
5. GMC is a hoarder of complaints. Instead of rapidly passing complaints onto doctors so these can be promptly investigated and replied to, GMC hangs onto complaints for many years until it is far too late, lives and fortunes lost by innocent doctors. There is no real understanding of what is regarded as psychologically dysfunctional unit/persons. GMC is loaded with money but not with intelligence. There are three core characteristics of dysfunction units:
(a) What this means is that when healthy proposals are made that would solve the biggest problem in dysfunctional unit it will be sabotaged because it is more exciting to have drama of chaos. Fire fighting, emergencies are exciting while tranquillity and order are frightening because of the fear that something out of control and beyond ability to control may happen. So people who are dysfunctional make bad things happen so that they remain in control.
(b) Fear of intimacy means that one cannot openly and politely say what one thinks in case one is severely punished and banished. This is what happens to whistle blowers. GMC is expert and setting conditions on their practice that for one reason or another cannot be met. The next stage is suspension and then erasure from medical register. The reason why there is fear of intimacy is again irrational but the underlying belief is that if the truth is to become known the whole unit would collapse. Obsession of medical regulator is reputation of the whole profession. It is more pleasant to banish one whistle blower than several gangs.
Recommendation: review of whistle blowing cases.
(c) Fear of conflict is also psychopathological like in dysfunctional families where a child cannot tell parent off because malfunctioning/weak parent has so much more power that he/she can destroy child by overreacting. Conformity with much nonsense is rife in medical profession because of that fear of conflict.
6. Information Commissioner’s Office had many complaints about GMC and they do what they can. GMC was placed on enforcement monitoring list but they just continued not complying with legislation.
Recommendations: D4J to write again to ICO and ask them to consider fines.
DPA and FOIA Ignorance amongst Lawyers and Defence Bodies
7. It is certainly true that DPA is one of the longer acts but the reality is that it could be even longer than it is. Had lawyers advising their clients and medical defence bodies used it so much harm would have been prevented.
Recommendations: Law Society to make these two acts compulsory CPD for this year for all.
Concealment of Evidence
8. GMC, being a hoarder of complaints, frequently does not pass onto doctor complaints and other documents gathered during their investigations.
Recommendation: Court actions in local county courts to be supported.
Lack of Legal Representation
9. A request under Freedom of Information Act by D4J showed that at GMC’s FTP hearings over 40% of doctors are not represented by legal professionals.
Recommendation: Better Pro-Bono connections to be made.
Lack of Audio-Visual Recording of Hearings
10. It is disappointing that medical profession has not led the way to audio-visual recording of FTP hearings. How can one stomach the hypocrisy of complicity in the High Court with GMC’s findings? One of the usual excuses is that High Court judge cannot have the same information from reading transcripts of the hearings because FTP panel members would have the advantage of observing the manners, tone of voice, body language of the accused doctors. As in the interest of justice hearings are meant to be public, the rest of us would like to see it too. Instead when GMC had the surplus of money they actually gave doctors back some of their money. Yes, our heads hurt when we hear such things.
Recommendations: pilot run.
11. We find High Court judges in Administrative High Court to be weak in the sense of lacking independent thinking and far too conformist with abuse of power by medical regulator. It is as if life was extinguished in them some time ago in a boarding school playground fight they lost unfairly.
12. The Office of Judicial complaints could not tell us if judges are trained in knowing of different manifestations of whistle bowing and the college which trains judges never responded to us.
Recommendation: liaison with Ministry of Justice regarding CPD for judges on human rights and especially Article 10.
13. We have received a number of complaints from doctors where vindictive behaviour against them started by management after they expressed desire to be trained in order to progress up the career ladder. Equality Human Rights Commission is ineffective and should be fined.
13(a) Discrimination against Irish doctors specifically has continued at GMC.
14. The Royal Colleges of medicine which had Reading Lists for professional Membership exams appear to have destroyed them. We think The Royal College of Psychiatrists was very sneaky because the Reading List for junior doctors had great classics by French intellectuals some of whom were feminists. This was more than some men could bear. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has been run for many years by the patriarchal forces in executive who inhabited the land of vivid imagination. Now, they established Special Interests Group in Spirituality. It is a real pity that there are no para-normal entities in their library like in the film Ghostbusters. Following on from one NHS Trust employment of consultant in paranormal, we asked The Royal College of Psychiatrists (or The Royal College of Shrinkage, as called by patients) if they too planned to employ Ghostbusters and in all seriousness they did answer us that they did not for the time being. They, of course, do not need to, as we learned later on. They have their own exorcists amongst their membership. GMC also appear to be more lenient with male doctors (on the same complaint type) than female doctors who have less complaints in total against them reflecting that males can be vicious for competitive reasons with each other (fights for private business).
14(a) Discrimination against men continues too particularly in the field of mental health. Cultural expectations and neglect of men means more will commit suicides even if they knock on mental health unit’s door.
Recommendation: reintroduce Essential Readings of classic papers and books.
15. GMC has been tight lipped when asked who the members of the Standards and Ethics Committee were. We are aware that members of clergy of various faiths are very drawn to Ethics Committees where they are capable of impeding progress for decades. Faith is still number one for them and patients and public not even number two on a number of issues. Even if one attempts to submit evidence and questions to them there is no answer. The last escape from D4J by GMC’s Ethics Committee was into so called public consultation. However, public have not been given sufficient information to be able to give fair answers to GMC’s consultation.
Recommendation: examination of the number of issues that the committee has refused to deal with.
Observance of Duty of Care
16. Despite the efforts of at least one government to produce Code of Conduct for NHS managers it has been completely ignored by GMC in the case of NHS managers who are also doctors and registered with GMC. Everybody knows that money is not everything and, indeed, when doctors collected money and tried to make doctors who are also NHS managers accountable they failed in courts, closed their organisation and when left with unused money (doctors are not poor) they simply gave it away to charity! So, even money is not enough to get justice ie doctors pay lawyers and courts just fail to use the rule of law.
17. GMC is rife with corrupt expert witness who also act in various UK courts. It has been impossible to get GMC to act in the case of expert witnesses who are also registered with GMC. What this means that regulation by various professional regulators outside medical profession is also complete waste of time and must not be even entertained by PHSC. Ministry of Justice wasted time and effort on commissioning so called independent report from Professor Ireland (professor of Psychology). These academic experts are completely blind to defects in professional self-regulation and frankly harmful in their naivety, but not in how they misrepresented facts to Ministry of Justice who in good faith commissioned their work. Two so called independent reporters are even twin sisters. When D4J questioned them by emails they, as if through magic, became silent statues.
18. Abusive use of psychiatry on dissident doctors has continued.
Recommendation: D4J to write the report to Ministry of Justice with recommendations.
19. When organisation is big enough, over period of time their staff ‘forget’ who said what to whom. At GMC this leads to a laughable situation where one arm of the organisation is vigorously trying to prevent disclosure of facts when the other has already disclosed the same information. It is reasonable, for example, to know who the judges in court to make decisions are. Not so at GMC. It is a secret who are the panel members at Interim Orders FTP panels. Their decisions are not published either. The way this is exploited is, for example, to punish senior consultants who object to their bad treatment or to NHS management breaking law. Doctors are discredited by IOC, conditions /sanctions imposed on their practice and public do not know why. The case of Dr Ewa Michalak illustrates this rather well. GMC were on their way to demolish her but she had English husband who defended her in court and he won. Not surprising why. He was left with a baby (child to take care of plus wife who became mentally ill, and lost his career). The reality is that it was an English man who won at Employment tribunal and not an ethnic minority woman who happens to be a senior consultant dong an awful NHS job no English person would do.
Recommendations: all hearings to be public whenever possible, determinations to be published and names of panellists published.