Doctors who are accused of misconduct are being treated as guilty before any investigation, by their employer and the GMC. There is little or no protection for these doctors. A number of doctors being investigated by the GMC have committed suicide and the GMC is currently not held accountable for this loss of life. This needs to be stopped.
The GMC should accept responsibility for the wellbeing of doctors who are under its investigation. They should be held accountable for the loss of life of any doctor they are investigating. The UK Secretary of State for Health should bring about change to the statute to achieve this, so that doctors' lives are protected.
Dr Suresh was an anaesthetist who gave sedation to a patient for a dental procedure. The sedative given occasionally causes sexual hallucination. The patient accused the anaesthetist of inappropriate touching but there was no witness to this. The patient's description of the accused person was completely different to that of Dr Suresh. However, not only did the police commence an investigation, Dr Suresh was also suspended from work by his employer, restricted from being alone with his own son by the social services and reported to the GMC by the police. A month later, the GMC wrote to him advising that they too had opened an investigation and that he should attend a hearing in 3 weeks when his registration may be suspended. At this point Dr Suresh took his own life. The family of this doctor has been left devastated.
As some doctors have lost their lives while under GMC investigation, Dr Suresh's family and friends appeal to the Secretary of State for help in protecting other doctors facing similar situation.
An inquest into Dr Suresh's death was held on25 to 27 February. For an effective Coroner's inquest that makes appropriate recommendations.
A GMC spokesperson told Pulse: ‘This was an extremely tragic case and our thoughts are with Dr Suresh’s family and friends at this difficult time. If we are aware a doctor may be vulnerable we will always put safeguards in place to support them, however for this to happen we must be made aware of concerns, including if the doctor may be at risk of self-harm. In this case, our investigation was at a very early stage and we had no information to indicate that the doctor was vulnerable or at risk.
‘Our letter was polite and informative, but had we been aware of concerns about the doctor’s vulnerability we would have made arrangements to ensure he was supported.
‘In recent years we’ve worked hard to improve our systems, with mental health at the heart of every change, and we’re determined to keep learning and making changes in everyone’s best interests’.
The Teesside coroner Clare Bailey said she would write to the GMC and North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where Dr Suresh worked as a consultant anaesthetist, to tell them to change their procedures in such cases. She said there was a "lacuna in understanding" over which agency would make the referral and who would tell him the referral had been made, and this was "likely to have had a significant impact" on him.
She said the trust had tightened procedures and police had also made improvements, but there was still a "concern about assumptions"