I had my case reviewed by NCAS and did the 3 months re-training we agreed on. After that, the idea was that I should carry out operations under increasingly loose supervision. Unfortunately the exact details were not set in stone so that my employer tried to make it as difficult for me as possible to obtain the final clearance. One of my colleagues was meant to supervise me and discuss cases with me. Everything seemed to proceed smoothly but what I did not know was that they tried to make a case of non-compliance (“does not engage in discussions”) out of not talking to me while I thought they were just leaving me alone until time was up and I could resume full activity.

By sheer luck I obtained written evidence of this plot and could file a grievance before the supervision time was over. Their plan was to get rid of me by claiming that I showed lack of interest in my “rehabilitation”. Indeed this could have been a killer and it is one of the most dangerous weapons in a trust’s arsenal.

The grievance was quickly settled by acknowledging there was a “misunderstanding” and that no further objections to my reintegration would be raised.

Then the waiting for a confirmation in writing that I was back on full duties began.

This confirmation did not come for months and I had to threaten with another grievance before it was very reluctantly produced.

I sent a copy to NCAS together with a statement that I considered the matter closed if I did not hear from them again.

It must have been OK because I never received an answer. The trust then left me alone.

Shortly afterwards we had a merger with another trust (for a while – it did not work out) and I took the opportunity to bring the whole affair to the attention of the new management.

A while later we had a big get-together event for the whole  department where everybody was encouraged to speak up. The MD  and his 2 deputies  decided to retire. The one responsible for my misery decided to announce during said meeting that he was leaving  and apologised “that some people were disappointed with his performance” – it was strange and awkward, but he did leave.

That was my case in a nutshell.

Some afterthoughts:

The problem which we now have is that some of the older consultants in the trust still cannot get rid of their habit to shoot colleagues down from behind and even the “new” management (a lot of the old faces still there) goes along with it.

Not much has changed really and it is my impression that the increased supervision by quangos like CQC and NCAS has actually made matters worse because now we have to make our statistics look good. This means that there is pressure to select only the most healthy individuals for elective surgery because any complication reduces one’s reputation on paper nowadays. A very aggressive GMC does not help either and it is my impression that the GMC now listens a lot more to trust officials and does their bidding than a few years back.

Our trust has also made private work virtually impossible.

All in all, I think that the position of individual doctors has been weakened in the last 3 or 4 years.

This is part of an overall strategy with low pay rises, replacement of junior doctors with nurse practitioners and increased harassments like revalidation. The plan seems to be that doctors are to be pushed into the role of “specialist health technicians” and become something like airline pilots, just not with British Airways level of pay.

I could now retire anytime. If I manage to get through my appraisals and the next revalidation unharmed, I may continue for up to 5 years since I am the last permanent  consultant in my speciality at this hospital, but I do it out of a sense of duty and not because I enjoy it.