The next meeting of the group will be Saturday 29th June 2013 at 14.00 hours
The Priory Hospital, Priory Lane, Roehampton, London SW15 5JJ - (Map)
The Doctors Support Group (DSG) aims to provide support and assistance to any medical professional or dentist facing suspension, exclusion, investigation of complaints and/or allegations of professional misconduct.
The members of the DSG have extensive personal experience of suspension, exclusion, NHS Trust, NCAS and GMC investigations.
We aim to assist doctors and dentists cope with the enormous stresses and difficulties they may face.
Our prime objective is to enable those facing these bewildering and confusing situations to cope and eventually emerge with the minimum of professional and/or personal damage.
Members of the Doctor’s Support Group have an opportunity to network at meetings. We also try to link up members with similar experiences so that they can learn from one another.
First Aid Advice For those medical professionals or dentists facing suspension, exclusion, investigation of complaints and/or allegations of professional misconduct.
Almost inevitably, you will experience the typical emotional turmoil of a bereavement if you have recently learned that you:-
- have received a major complaint.
- have been placed on suspension or an exclusion.
- will be facing disciplinary action.
You may feel that your predicament is totally unjustifiable - and the chances are that you are correct. - see Suspensions Scandal - page 225
Clinical depression requiring specialist advice is not uncommon. Recognise it in yourself and seek advice early. The DoctorsSupportGroup may be able to assist.
Fallacy Accusations - Red Herrings
Many members of the Doctor's Support Group have belatedly realised that the initial dispute related to a nonesence accusation such as:-
- An event that could not have been prevented by anyone.
- The employer falsely claiming that the employee is ill.
There may be benefit in documenting your concerns in a carefully drafted letter or email to the employer - after checking the content with your legal adviser.
Be cautions in the way you respond to your employers.
Hospital Directors are skilled and experienced with employment issues and the chances are that you will have none of these skills. Furthermore, they have the support of employment solicitors and barristers paid for by the public purse.
Employers will often write legalistic jargon such as "we are committed to" as this may help their case if there should be litigation at a future date. At times you may consider it prudent to challenge such statements. A recent example from one group member was as follows:
You suggest that the Trust has sought to support me at all times but all I can remember is an endless and pointless series of delays since the Trust began to arrange xxx from 200x. Please remind me how the Trust has supported me over the last x difficult years?
You may have concerns that your employers are building a dosier of documents against you: Incident forms may be produced more frequently than seems reasonable for example.
- If your employer seems to be making inappropriate conclusions, question them in writing in a professional way.
- At all times, keep your cool and react in a professional manner.
- It may seem that your employers are trying to provoke you.
- By responding in a professional manner, you will counter such objectives.
- Seek professional advice early.
- If the problem persists, it is likely that
advantages will come your way:-
- You will be focused on one case only - your case. Your employers are trying to keep on top of many cases.
- Over time the managers come and go and the incoming ones will not have the same recall of events as you.
Be cautions in the way you respond to lawyers or a court.Members of our group have observed that lawyers and the courts are only assessing you.
They do not assess your employers or other doctors.
Seek advice from:-
- Those nearest and dearest to you.
- Your indemnifiers.
- Your employment advisers such as the BMA, BDA or HSA.
- The Doctor's Support Group, preferably by attending our meetings.
- Newcomers are pleasantly surprised to learn that the Group is composed of doctor's who have similarly been subjected to inappropriate accusations and disputes.
- You will soon learn that you are not alone and you will invariably find support from the Group as a whole and individual members, particularly if they have experience similar to your own.
- Counseller - you may need regular review of your problems.
- A counseller
/ psychotherapist is a professional trained to assist you to come to terms
with your situation and assist you to move your problems
forward. The British Association for
Counselling is a good place to find information on counselling and there
is a facility to find a local counseller specialisting in specialist areas
such as "work related issues" on
- A counseller / psychotherapist is a professional trained to assist you to come to terms with your situation and assist you to move your problems forward. The British Association for Counselling is a good place to find information on counselling and there is a facility to find a local counseller specialisting in specialist areas such as "work related issues" on
You are in overall command of your side of the dispute.
In the early stages, you are likely to be weakened mentally by your situation.
Take care not to play into the hands of your employers.
- If you demonstrate insubordination, this can lead to termination of your contract.
- If you put your case in the public arena, this may be seen as disclosing employer confidentiality and can also lead to termination of your contract.
Keep a file of all correspondence.
You will be surprised how quickly the documents will accumulate.
- Keep all your documents in chronological order and in one file.
You may believe that all you have to do is to place your details in the capable hands of your legal advisors and they will skilfully sort it all out for you.
- Most legal advisors, even those in the medical area of legal practice, have very little if any medical knowledge and if they do, it is almost certainly not in your area of expertise.
- None of them will recall the facts of your case in the same detail as you.
Pro Bono Advice (No Cost)
In the event that you have inadequate legal support, there are some organisations that may be able to help you on a Pro Bono basis.
Some solicitors may work on a "No Win - No Fee basis" but there could only be a 'Fee' if litigation is likely. These can be found with a Search for example - "Employment Law Solicitors - No win no fee".
Some solicitors and barristers may consider providing advice on a Pro Bono basis:
You must be proactive.
- You must come up with ideas, whether self-generated, or provided by other sources, and put them to your advisers for clarification./li>
- Some legal advisers may choose to speak with you on the telephone rather than in writing / email. This is often well meaning but as with medical notes, if it is not written, you have no evidence. There are times when you may consider it appropriate to minute the advice being given and then email it through to your adviser so that it is documented.
- If a letter needs to be sent to your employer, consider drafting it yourself and running it as a draft past your legal advisor. This will ensure that it will include all the points you wish to make whilst ensuring that it does not compromise your position legally.
When a doctor believes his employer has acted inappropriately - against their duty of care - it may seem that laws of tort may come into play. However, in the majority of such situations, it is contract law rather than tort law that purtains. According to Wikipedia:- "A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong. Tort law deals with situations where a person's behaviour has unfairly caused someone else to suffer loss or harm. A tort is not necessarily an illegal act but causes harm and therefore the law allows anyone who is harmed to recover their loss. Tort law is different to criminal law, which deals with situations where a person's actions cause harm to society in general. A claim in tort may be brought by anyone who has suffered loss."
There are some useful websites and videos that explain a little on tort law such as:-
One useful website on contract law is - http://www.lawofcontract.co.uk/form/index.php - there is a small monthly subscription.
A senior member of our group has recommended "Employment Law in Context" by Brian Willey as a useful introduction.
Recent Additions to the website:-
BBC - Investigation Great Ormond Street Hospital - April 2012
If this video does not run smoothly, please pause it for a minute or two.
High Court quashes GMC’s findings that psychiatrist abused his position Read More March 2012
Shoot the Messenger - Private Eye July 2011
Secret doctors' courts move a 'disaster' for patients Press Gazette 20 April 2011 Read More
BBC Inside Out 25th October 2010
Video:- Exclusion from clinical practice. Baby P, Whistleblowing.Wrongly Suspended Dr Kim Holt Great Ormond Street Hospital | Ramon Niekrash | GMC Guidelines | BBC Inside Out | Gagging Clauses | Employment Tribunals | Doctors Support Group
Quoting from the above video:-
|Ramon Niekrash - Consultant Urologist:- "It is a bizarre feeling
because when you do end up leaving the hospital you feel rather
empty of course and there isn't anyone you can turn to. It is not as
if a crime has been committed and you can go to the police."
"... This sounds like the Stasi of former Eastern Germany."
|Lawyers claim there is a pattern
Arpita Dutt - Employment Lawyer:- .... The focus being on the quality of the disclosure becomes a focus on the character of the individual. The reputation of the individual and then often becomes "how do we destroy that characer? How do we destroy that reputation?
Peter Tomlin, president of the group, has analysed the process by which senior hospital doctors are disciplined within the NHS and published on "The Suspensions Scandal" in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. A number of faults were identified and he found that many of these give an unfair advantage to management and are contrary to the rules of "Natural Justice". Read more....
Injury Benefit for NHS Employees who are not able to work due to work related stress.
Dr Michalak £4.5 million award - Read more...
NCAS Conference 3rd February 2011 - Summary of Papers -
Medical Act 1983 - Essential reading if you are preparing for a GMC Hearing - 18th October 2010
Post-Shipman fitness-to-practise overhaul falls victim to cuts
The Government is set to scrap plans for a massive shake-up of GP fitness-to-practise hearings, in a move it claims will save the NHS more than £60 million by avoiding an unnecessary new layer of bureaucracy. Read More....
Shirine Boardman - Exhonerated by GMC
Employment Tribunals - 16th November 2009
NCAS Update - Report 22nd September 2009
- NCAS referrals come from all parts of the UK and across all sectors, whether in hospital or in general practice;
- Two referrals in three are about clinical skills but behavioural concerns are also common, seen in more than half the cases analysed;
- The average duration of exclusions of doctors in the hospital and community sector has fallen by over a third since 2003, which directly addresses concerns raised over the past two decades about prolonged exclusion from work;
- Amongst 144 of our cases where the most serious concerns have been raised, two thirds were back in work after remediation – rather than being lost to the service;
- Certain groups of practitioners are more likely than others to be referred to NCAS, for example men and older practitioners. The same groups are also more likely to experience exclusion or suspension from work;
- The report also examines the part played by ethnicity and place of qualification in the likelihood of referral of practitioners in hospital and community services. It shows that non-white practitioners qualifying outside the UK are more likely to be referred to NCAS, but that neither referral nor suspension or exclusion from practice is any higher among non-white practitioners qualifying within the UK.”
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