Every doctor has a duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect, says GMCBMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e4719 (Published 10 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e4719
All rapid responses
Who could object to the GMC issuing advice to doctors on “Protecting children and young people”, but once again the GMC’s conduct appears to be at variance with its advice. The GMC has attempted to destroy the careers of paediatricians that exposed abuse of children but, according to a source at the GMC, the GMC has allowed about 100 doctors to remain on the Medical Register after they were placed on the Sex Offenders Register for accessing child pornography on the internet. Surely accessing child pornography encourages child abuse. The muddled response of the medical establishment to this may be judged from the fact that one consultant gynaecologist was allowed to continue in practice by the GMC, but had restrictions placed on his clinical activity by his Trust when he was placed on the Sex Offenders Register. Despite reduced clinical activity and concerns about his character, 18 months later he received a Silver Clinical Excellence Award (CEA). Nomination for the award required support from the management of his trust, the recommendation of his Regional Sub-Committee, which included senior colleagues from his teaching hospital (although it is not clear whether they were aware he had been placed on the Register), and the Advisory Committee for Clinical Excellence Awards (ACCEA) cross-checking with the GMC whether there were any concerns about the doctor’s character. ACCEA informed me that they would investigate why the doctor was given the Silver Award. How does one square concern about child protection and awarding a National CEA to such a doctor?
The GMC has produced advice about research misconduct, but repeatedly allows senior academics proven to have falsified research that may result in harm to patients to get off without a meaningful punishment. It is my experience that those professors invariably retain the CEA that they obtained by falsifying their research.
The GMC took no action against a white professor whose career progression over many years was based on jobs obtained using false qualifications, yet the GMC consistently removes from the Medical Register junior doctors who are black or Asian that used false qualifications in a single job application. The white professor must have completed his own application when he obtained his National CEA. He must have been supported for the award by his Trust. The same Trust that threatened the whistleblower who reported his misconduct.
The GMC has produced advice on whistleblowing, which resonates with its current advice on reporting suspected child abuse, but the record of the GMC and medical establishment on protecting whistleblowers is poor. If you look hard enough at any doctor’s practice you will find mistakes and the GMC has colluded with Trust to magnify errors of whistleblowers to make them “the problem”. The GMC has destroyed the careers of some whistleblowers by questioning their sanity. As a last resort the GMC has used the old rule prohibiting a doctor from disparaging another to get a whistleblower. Yet when it was clear that a GMC member has agreed to conceal from the GMC and from the police fraud committed by another doctor, the GMC ignored both its own advice on reporting misconduct and the legal advice from its own solicitors, refused to act against the GMC member and allowed him to continue sitting on the Panel hearing cases of alleged misconduct by other doctors.
The GMC always responds to criticism by saying these events were in the past and things have changed. In a triumph of optimism over experience I have reported concerns to the GMC for 30 years and some cases are currently under consideration. I have discerned no change in the “Club Culture” with the GMC “looking after its own” that was described in the report by Dame Janet Smith.
1. Wilmshurst P. Dishonesty in medical research. Medico-Legal Journal 2007; 75: 3-12.
Competing interests: I have a silver clinical excellence award.
The General Medical Council's new guidance "Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors" was published this week, and sent to it's 230,000 members. This guidance does not come into effect until 3rd September 2012. To me it's not entirely clear why the GMC felt compelled to send this out by first class postage, at an additional cost of around £23,000. Perhaps there's still room for further cuts in the GMC subscription?
Competing interests: No competing interests