The Telegraph reported on the GMC’s admission that fitness to practise referrals are used against those who raise concerns over patient safety.

In the article, The Telegraph reported Prof Dame Carrie MacEwen, the General Medical Council (GMC) chair, acknowledged that the system for assessing doctors’ fitness to practice is being weaponised against those who raise patient safety concerns.

In a statement, she wrote:

“The GMC is aware that referrals to us are sometimes used to intimidate.”

She added that this misuse is “completely unacceptable, has significant consequences for doctors’ wellbeing, and puts patient safety at risk”.

According to the report:

“The admission comes in response to an investigation by this newspaper that exposed a “playbook” of tactics used by NHS managers to silence staff who raise concerns over potentially avoidable patient harm and deaths.”

Doctors told The Telegraph that steps taken by the GMC to protect whistleblowers were “insufficient”, calling for automatic investigations of NHS managers who inappropriately target whistleblowers with referrals.

They have echoed a call from Dr Naru Narayanan, the president of the hospital doctors’ union, who wants a new criminal offence to punish those who harm whistleblowers.

UK Fitness to Practise News

The revelations came from interviews with 52 current and former healthcare professionals, including 47 doctors, who raised concerns about upwards of 170 patient deaths and nearly 700 cases of poor care. Most of the harm occurred after staff first raised concerns.

Although GMC referrals are intended to be used only when there are issues around a doctor’s conduct or capability, 25 medics reported being threatened with referrals to the GMC after whistleblowing.

In 2016 and 2017, Dr Jasna Macanovic, a consultant hepatologist, blew the whistle over a “contraindicated” experimental procedure being carried out at Portsmouth Hospitals.

She told The Telegraph that “instead of investigating my concerns, the Trust threatened me with a GMC referral because I was ‘failing to cooperate with my colleagues’.”

In many of the 22 cases where managers followed through on threats and passed their details to the regulator, doctors claim that false or fabricated information was submitted against them.

All doctors have been told they have “no case to answer”.

Mr Peter Duffy, a whistleblower and former consultant urological surgeon awarded an MBE for services to the NHS, was anonymously referred to the GMC seven times, with the regulator always finding he had no case to answer.

He said:

“The impact couldn’t have been greater. For a number of months I was a huge suicide risk and ultimately [the seventh] referral to the GMC was responsible for my decision to quickly terminate my own career years earlier than planned, in order to prevent further malicious reporting.”

Disclaimer: The accuracy and information of news stories published on this website is accurate on the date of publishing. We endeavour to update stories if information change. You can contact us with change and update requests. Where possible, we will link to sources. Content on this website is for guidance purposes only. We cannot accept any responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken, or not taken. You should seek the appropriate legal advice having regard to your own particular circumstances.

Insight Works Training

Restoration Courses

Courses suitable for any health and social care practitioner who is considering making an application for restoration back onto the register.

Insight Works Training

Insight & Remediation

Courses that are suitable for any healthcare practitioner who is facing an investigation or hearing at work or before their regulatory body.

Insight Works Training

Probity, Ethics & Professionalism

Courses designed for those facing a complaint involving in part or in whole honesty, integrity and /or professionalism.