‘Worrying’ message being sent to other doctors following Dr Benn ruling, warns BMA

BMA press release.

Location: England
Published: Tuesday 23 April 2024
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Responding to the suspension ruling against Dr Sarah Benn, Dr Latifa Patel, BMA representative body chair and workforce lead, said:

“Like any citizen, doctors should adhere to the law, but many will find it very difficult to understand that their ability to practise medicine could be suspended because of peaceful actions they take in protest of the climate crisis. Whilst the GMC has a duty to refer doctors to a medical tribunal when they receive a custodial sentence, in some cases, such as this one, the doctor’s actions will have no bearing on their ability to practise medicine and will not pose a risk to patients, past or future.

“This ruling sends a worrying message to other doctors about the regulation of matters not directly related to patient care or their clinical skills, and raises serious questions about the rules behind the handling of such cases. We need urgent consideration on the rules as to why a doctor has been suspended for the punishment they already received for taking part in a legitimately peaceful protest, especially as the climate crisis is also a health crisis and as such doctors are understandably concerned. 

“Dr Benn’s actions and her resulting custodial sentence posed no threat to patients, but her suspension implies they do. It is now time for the GMC and the medical profession to review the basis on which Dr Benn found herself in front of a medical tribunal.”


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.