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Report on suicides of doctors under GMC investigation planned for publication in September

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5062 (Published 06 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5062
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. 1BMJ Careers

A report on doctors who have taken their own lives while under investigation by the General Medical Council is being prepared for publication in September.

Last year the GMC announced that it was carrying out a review, led by Sarndrah Horsfall, formerly interim chief executive of the National Patient Safety Agency, into cases where doctors had killed themselves while going through fitness to practise procedures.1

Niall Dickson, the GMC’s chief executive, said the regulator hoped to publish the review in September. He said, “We have commissioned a report on doctors who take their own life while in our procedures to see if there is more we can do to help and support them. We hope to publish that in September and respond to its recommendations.”

Dickson made the comment in response to a researcher’s recommendation that the GMC should create a separate system for assessing unwell doctors, because its practice of treating health problems in the same way as conduct issues had caused anxiety and distress.2

The review was launched after the disclosure that, since 2004, 96 doctors had died while being investigated by the GMC, although how many took their own lives was not stated. The figures emerged from a Freedom of Information Act request by the campaign group Doctors4Justice.

Earlier this year delegates at the BMA’s annual representative meeting voted in favour of a motion calling on the GMC to publish the results of the review.3 The motion was presented by Fay Wilson, a member of BMA Council. She told the conference, “After sustained pressure last autumn, [the GMC] set up an inquiry into the deaths of 96 doctors over the past decade who had been facing fitness to practise proceedings. By October last year a head of inquiry had been appointed, and yet nothing has appeared. Come on, GMC, this is important—where’s the report?”

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