19 December 2014

RCGP Response to GMC-Commissioned Review ‘Doctors Who Commit Suicide While Under GMC Fitness to Practise Investigation’

RCGP Chair Maureen Baker said: “Patient safety must be paramount in any fitness to practise process, but it is also essential that GPs and all doctors are investigated fairly and sensitively. It is shocking that so many of them have taken their own lives while investigations have been ongoing.

“The alarming doctor suicide statistics are proof that something must be done to ease the stress on doctors undergoing fitness to practise investigations.

“The RCGP welcomes the GMC’s assurance that no GP under investigation should be treated as a guilty party before the process has reached its conclusions - and that throughout they receive all the support and advice they need.

“We also support the proposal to speed up the fitness to practise procedures - the GMC must thoroughly investigate allegations of malpractice, but some investigations extend for many years and this adds extra stress for all parties concerned.

“Even GPs who fail to live up to the highest professional standards can be better served by a swift investigation followed by offers of professional help where appropriate. We support the recommendation that the GMC will appoint a senior medical officer to deal specifically with health issues affecting the doctors concerned.

“GPs everywhere are reporting high levels of stress as we struggle to provide care to our patients, often in very difficult circumstances due to lack of funding, significant increases in patient consultations and difficulties in trying to recruit sufficient GPs to meet patients’ needs.

“Today’s statistics are a wake-up call for us to do more to support GPs and to prevent problems arising in the interests of patient safety.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7581
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.