The General Medical Council has issued a statement on the MPTS determination that angered doctors groups saying that a suspension was disproportionate.
Pulse reported that the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service has suspended Dr Manjula Arora for a month for ‘dishonesty’ after telling an IT department she had been ‘promised’ a laptop.
The tribunal suspended Manchester GP Dr Manjula Arora because she told the IT department at Mastercall Healthcare, the GP out-of-hours provider where she worked, that she had been promised a laptop.
But the tribunal said that she had ‘exaggerated’ these claims, and as a result found that her fitness to practise was impaired.
However, doctors groups have reacted angrily to the judgement, saying that a suspension was disproportionate for a relatively minor offence.
Following recent discussions and feedback, the General Medical Council’s Chief Executive has determined that the regulator should review this case to see whether there are lessons to be learnt for future cases.
Charlie Massey, Chief Executive and Registrar of the General Medical Council, said:
‘I hear the strong views being expressed about this case, and it is absolutely right that our decisions are open to scrutiny. As a regulator we are not complacent and always believe that there is room to improve the way that we carry out our duties.
‘Accordingly, I have asked for a review of this case to understand whether there are lessons to learn and apply for future cases.
‘I know too that it has prompted discussion about our work to eliminate disproportionate referrals and to ensure fairness in our own processes.
‘I am wholeheartedly committed to tackling discrimination in medicine and ensuring that we constantly seek ways to improve our own processes. It is important that those conversations continue to happen, so that we can move forward and make progress together.’
Responding to the ruling on Dr Manjula Arora’s case by the Medical Protection Services Tribunal1, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“This ruling will add to many doctors’ fears about the General Medical Council’s disproportionate and unfair approach to their regulatory system as it applies to the medical profession.
“A referral to the GMC can cause untold mental distress on a doctor, with some doctors having sadly taken their own lives whilst being investigated. The BMA has repeatedly raised the concern that there are disproportionate GMC referrals by employers of doctors from ethnic minorities, with doctors who have qualified overseas being referred at three times the rate of UK-trained doctors.
“Doctors are perplexed and deeply concerned that the allegations in this case were referred to the GMC and were not instead resolved locally. The BMA has already called for an external scrutiny panel to assess all employer referrals to the GMC, as another check to ensure appropriateness, given concerns that many complaints do not need regulatory investigation but can be dealt with by local processes. We hope the employer will reflect on its own actions here and learn lessons for the future.
“This case also raises serious questions about the processes and judgments of Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearings. By its own admission the Tribunal’s determination is based on the interpretation of a single word relating to the provision of a laptop, in an otherwise unblemished career of a doctor. It is incomprehensible that suspending this doctor from caring for patients for a month, at a time of unprecedented NHS pressures, is in the public’s interest. Neither will this have any bearing on the public’s confidence in doctors, but it will have dramatically eroded the medical profession’s confidence in its regulator and exacerbated doctors’ fear of unfair treatment by the GMC.
“This ruling reinforces the BMA’s view that there needs to be a comprehensive root and branch independent evaluation of the GMC’s fitness-to-practise decision-making procedures starting from the referral process itself – something we have called for repeatedly.”