Doctors who face GMC investigations or license withdrawal have access to a confidential support service from the BMA.
We recognise that being subject to a complaint or learning your license is at risk can be uniquely and deeply stressful. We also understand that many doctors might not have anyone to confide in while they undergo a GMC investigation.
As a result the GMC commissioned us to provide the Doctor support service, which offers emotional help from fellow doctors and functions independently of the GMC.
Get the inside view of how the Doctor support service works, how it can help and why it's vital to seek support early.
Read our feature
Who is the service aimed at?
You don't have to be a BMA member to get support.
Where a complaint has been made to the GMC any doctor can ask for support from the Doctor support service.
The support is available from when a complaint is made until the outcome of the case. Doctors unable to talk with family or supportive colleagues may find the service particularly useful.
The Doctor Support Service has recently been made available to include doctors who are at risk of having their license withdrawn. If you receive any communication from the GMC indicating that your license to practise is at risk you are welcome to use this service.
What sort of support is available?
This service will support colleagues through a very stressful time, which not only affects their professional lives but also impacts on their personal lives.
- 6 hours of telephone support, subject to availability, from the time a complaint is received by the GMC until the matter is concluded. Or from the time you receive notification from the GMC that your license to practice is at risk.
- Face to face support, subject to availability of supporters, on the first day of a hearing and one further day if the hearing runs for more than a day
- An orientation visit on the morning of your hearing, if you would find it useful to look around the hearing room before it starts. You can arrange this with your supporter.
- Or watch a tour of the hearing centre on the MPTS website.
Will the supporter help me with my case?
The supporter will be able to talk to you about how you feel about what is happening and help you to find strategies to cope with the stress of the proceedings.
You can ask the supporter to come with you if you are required to attend a fitness to practice hearing.
The service is not able to offer advice about your case. You should speak to your defence organisation or legal representative about that.
If you want help with understanding the GMC's fitness to practice procedures you can contact the investigation officer who is handling your case.
Doctor support service leaflet (PDF)
Our Doctor Support Service only collects data and personal information from you. Categories of data collected will include name, telephone number, email address, ethnicity, specialty, location of work, age, gender. This data will be held for up to 20 years to ensure quality and consistency of service and in line with our legal requirements.
We do not disclose this information to any third parties unless legally obliged to.
In those rare cases where a doctor's health problem appears to pose a risk to their patients, the doctor supporter has a responsibility to prevent harm. The doctor supporter will try to encourage the doctor to obtain appropriate help to change whatever presents a risk to patients. Failure on the doctor's part to comply will mean that the doctor supporter will have to take advice on how to act and this may be by contacting the GMC. However, we anticipate these occasions will be very rare and will only ever be undertaken as a means of last resort.