Judge questions why GMC took three years to investigate sexual assault claimBMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j4579 (Published 03 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4579
All rapid responses
Re: Judge questions why GMC took three years to investigate sexual assault claim; full text judgment
Link to the 206 paragraph full-text judgment of the High Court is below:
The Judge's concerns are aptly summarised at para.198: "Notwithstanding that assistance, I still remain concerned about both of these aspects. The fairly detailed and lengthy chronology does not of itself justify why it took so long for these relatively brief and straightforward allegations to be dealt with by the MPTS, or why the weaknesses in the patient's complaint were not identified well before the matter proceeding to a hearing. For example, the fact that the Bournemouth and the Swansea allegations arose whilst the initial investigation into the examination in October 2013 and the events of July 2014 was under way does not in my judgment justify the overall delay. The allegations made by the patient was of a very serious nature and needed to be resolved (along with the July 2014 allegations) as soon as possible. The Appellant is understandably concerned, for example, that further witness statements relating to essential factual aspects of the patient allegations were not obtained until towards the end of 2015 and from the ward matron until January 2016. A similar timescale applies to the July 2014 allegations. However, although these are matters which ought to be reviewed independently for the MPTS, to see whether any delay was truly justified and if not whether these were merely isolated incidents, I do not rely upon them in order to arrive at my decision in this case."
It would be interesting to see whether there would be an independent review of the MPTS's conduct in the instant case.
Competing interests: No competing interests
There can be few sights more disgusting than that of the tortured expected to defend themselves in front of a tribunal. I do not speak of Guy Fawkes or Jesus Christ but of Dr Michael Brookman.
I will not rehearse the concerns of HH Mr Justice Holgate who quite rightly has called for an investigation into the GMC. This is long overdue and one really has to question if the organisation is fit for purpose. The truth of the matter is that it is out of control.
Their mantra that they are there to ‘protect the patients’ appears to excuse the high rates of deaths of doctors subject to their processes, a concern raised by at least two coroners in the last 5 years. An internal review 2005-2013 inclusive identified 114 doctors who had died during an open and disclosed GMC case and found that 28 had committed suicide.1
Chilling reading when you compare this with the number of judicial executions 2007-2012. Maybe the GMC should also be on Amnesty International’s watch list, I guess below Yemen and above North Korea?
10 countries with the most executions
Death penalty around the world2
Country Total executed, 2007-12
SOURCE: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
SAUDI ARABIA 423
UNITED STATES 220
KOREA (NORTH) 105
The notion that a doctor who takes an oath to benefit his fellow man3 is not only wrongly accused of sexual assault, but is subjected to a three year ordeal of unimaginable stress. On medication the accused doctor is expected to navigate the GMC process and mount their own defence against a qualified Barrister for the GMC. This would appear to be at odds with the judicial principle of Equality of Arms4. I doubt anyone would be surprised if the good Dr Brookman had taken his own life.
The notion that the GMC and MPTS tribunal would watch the weak pitted against the mighty is despicable. The noble aims of the Regulator reduced to the psychopathic sport of despots and tyrants. Those concerned should hang their heads in shame for they have surely abdicated their right to say they are part of a civilised society.
I wish HHJ Holgate every success with his external investigation but regrettably this case is not unique and I doubt much will change. However, in my opinion what is needed, is an undertaking on the part of the Attorney General that the deaths of doctors are investigated with a view to bringing a charge of manslaughter against those responsible at the GMC. Perhaps it is time the BMA organised a petition?
1. Pulse article: 'GMC to introduce 'emotional resilience' training after finding 28 doctors under investigation committed suicide 19 December 2014
2. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
3. Lloyd, Geoffrey, ed. (1983). Hippocratic Writings (2nd ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 94. ISBN 0140444513
4. Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights
Competing interests: No competing interests