Reflection on “Reflection to the GMC”.
Today, 13th May 2016, nearly 2 years after that Reflection of 29 June 2014, I write a further reflection on those issues on another auspicious occasion. Last night saw the birth of my granddaughter, Florence Fiona, to my eldest son and his wife.
The intervening years have allowed some sort of coming to terms with the behaviour of the Trust and the subsequent involvement of the GMC.
I can see that it could be straightforward, at least in principle, for the investigation of a complaint from a patient, a member of the public, with regard to an alleged injury at the hands of one or more employees of the NHS. The case itself may be exceedingly complex and its investigation demanding, but in principle it involves an allegedly injured party seeking compensation.
The difficulty arises when there is no injured party, no morbid or mortal consequences to an alleged failure to comply with Good Medical Practice. This in itself would not be so difficult to deal with by Trust and GMC were the complaint manifest by a member of the public. The doctor subjected to that complaint could be supported by members of the Trust both in substance and in spirit in surviving the necessary investigatory process without risk to health and well being.
The problem arises when a doctor is similarly accused of such malpractice, without evidence of accompanying morbidity or mortality, by a senior medical practitioner in that Trust who has authority over the that same troubled doctor. The consequence of such a scenario is that the word of the senior must be taken preferentially by all sections of medical and general management within the Trust while the views of the accused are at best ignored and at worst dismissed out of hand. No member of management or of the Trust Board can step out of line, reject the disciplinary demands of the higher status accuser and be seen to support the unfortunate subject of the allegations.
The accused is therefore totally isolated from all support within the organisation and if the attitude and actions of the accuser are in any way vindictive and excessive, the situation the troubled doctor can find themself in can be dire.
When such a situation presents to the GMC, the Council has a duty to support and protect the accused individual if it is to be seen as more than a prosecuting authority against members of the medical profession. The situation can be invidious, with overtones of bullying, harassment, intimidation, isolation and exclusion – and no one in a senior position in the Trust, or even in the GMC perhaps, can raise their head above the parapet in support of the accused because it smacks of disloyalty to a close colleague, the accuser.
Mental health issues and even suicide could be on the cards here for the hapless situation of the accused. Isolated, ostracised, and intimidated – even former friends in management and Trust Board dare not support, sympathise or even contact the individual at the centre of the storm. Hence you can understand why no one from the Board or senior management sent condolences on the death of my daughter Fiona.
I have some understanding here, of human frailty – both mine and of others.