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.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.