GMC Investigation and Suicide

28 Doctors Killed Themselves While Under Investigation By GMC

Original Article in Huffinton Post

An independent guide has actually found that 28 medical professionals eliminated themselves while under examination for malpractice between 2005 and 2013.

The General Medical Council commissioned guide out today discovered the doctors, who killed themselves or died of suspected suicide, were suffering from mental illness or had drug or alcoholism, bring into question the health care of physicians.

A leading GP said she had actually seen a fourfold boost in patients at her service for sick physicians, and warned that a culture of grievance was “hard-wiring cruelty into the NHS” and enhancing pressure on vulnerable medical professionals, managers and nurses.

Clare Gerada, the medical director of the Practitioner Health Programme, invited the GMC report, however stated that the independent medical requirements body must make its investigations into allegations against doctors “kinder”.

The report by specialist Sarndrah Horsfall found that the GMC had made “substantial enhancements” in the support it offers to doctors under examination, but suggested additional changes to ensure that they feel they are being treated as innocent up until proven guilty.

And it called for the Department of Health, NHS England and devolved administrations to establish a National Support Service for medical professionals.

Detailing concerns about the period of GMC questions and the nature of correspondence sent out to physicians, the report said: “Many still believe the GMC is a ‘process’-driven organisation concentrated on safeguarding the public and that the physician can end up being marginalised with little interpersonal communication, support or empathy.

“Many commented that the fitness to practise process creates an environment of unpredictability and makes physicians feel that they are judged ‘guilty till tested innocent’.”.

Doctors under stress
In one suicide case, the guide found that a medical professional left a note reading: “I am exceptionally stressed and can not continue like this. I hold the GMC responsible for making my condition worse without any offer of help.”.

Ms Horsfall concluded: “The GMC needs to develop an environment where physicians going through a fitness to practice examination feel they are dealt with as ‘innocent till proven guilty’ – similar to any judicial procedure.

“Investigations have to be performed in a thoughtful manner and as swiftly and successfully as possible, considering legal constraints and the need to safeguard clients.”.

Dr Gerada said she had actually addressed medical professionals whose investigations had dragged on for as long as 5 years, while they lost their households, their houses and their incomes, and who described the procedure as “death by 1,000 arrows, as bad as getting a medical diagnosis of cancer”.

She informed BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Having a mental illness should not imply that you are dealt with like a criminal.

“Sick doctors are patients. We are not aliens from outer space that have no sensations. A doctor with a depressive health problem is a patient, and you need to manage them the same regard and empathy you would with any other patients.”.

She included: “The GMC have made some improvements for many years and what the report reveals is they’ve still got a way to go … They have to make their system kinder.”.

Dr Gerada stated: “I believe this belongs to a general malaise within the NHS. Exactly what I’m seeing in my sick medical professional service is a fourfold boost of medical professionals providing.

“I think we are hard-wiring ruthlessness into the NHS. We’ve got great deals of policies that motivate anonymous publishing from clients, that encourage grievances and whistle-blowing. We’ve got policies that are designed to name and shame, that are designed to embarrass and expose.

“I do not think it’s great. I do not think that any organisation, let alone hard-working physicians and nurses and managers, work best when they are called and shamed on the front page.

“The GMC are part of a system that we’ve got that has actually forgotten that those who are providing care to the most prone in our society must themselves have compassion offered to them. I believe policy-makers have a moral responsibility to take a look at the systems that are causing physicians to kill themselves, nurses to eliminate themselves and managers to eliminate themselves.”.

The GMC stated it will certainly convene a conference in the New Year to explore the concept of establishing a National Support Service for medical professionals.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson stated: “We understand that some medical professionals who enter our procedures have really serious health concerns, including those who have actually had concepts of committing suicide.

“We understand too that for any doctor, being examined by the GMC is a stressful experience and extremely often follows other injuries in their lives.

“Our very first responsibility must, obviously, be to safeguard patients however we are determined to do everything we can to make sure we deal with these cases as sensitively as possible, to guarantee the medical professionals are being supported locally and to minimize the impact of our treatments.”.


The GMC report has also been discussed by the BBC.

The General Medical Council commissioned report can be read here……….

Summary of the Report

Doctors who commit suicide while udner GMC fitness to practice investigation.

Internal Review

Executive Summary

This report was commissioned by the GMC to review those cases where doctors have committed suicide while under the fitness to practise procedures between 2005 (when the GMC introduced electronic data systems) and 2013. The aim was to establish whether the GMC’s processes could be improved to reduce the impact on vulnerable doctors and whether there is more the GMC can do to prevent these tragedies from occurring. The report addresses lessons that can be learnt from these deaths, as well as any changes the GMC could make in the way it handles vulnerable doctors.
During the period under review there were 28 reported cases in the GMC’s records where a doctor committed suicide or suspected suicide while under their investigation procedures.

The case reviews showed that many of the doctors who committed suicide suffered from a recognised mental disorder, most commonly depressive illness, bipolar disorder and personality disorder. A number also had drug and/or alcohol addictions. Other factors that may have contributed to their deaths included marriage breakdown, financial hardship, the involvement of the police and the impact of the GMC investigation.
Recommendations for current GMC practice:
1 Doctors under investigation should feel they are treated as ‘innocent until proven guilty’
2 Reduce the number of health examiners’ reports required for health assessments
3 Appoint a senior medical officer within the GMC to be responsible for overseeing health cases
4 Introduce case conferencing for all health and performance cases
5 Set out pre-qualification criteria for referrals from NHS providers and independent employers
6 Make emotional resilience training an integral part of the medical curriculum
7 Expose GMC investigation staff to frontline clinical practice
8 Develop a GMC employee training package to increase staff awareness of mental health issues.
Recommendations for GMC stakeholders:
9 Establish a National Support Service (NSS) for doctors


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