GMC Report into Doctor Deaths

GMC Report into Doctor Deaths While Under Investigation: a cautious welcome

Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) is extremely concerned at the number of suicides revealed by the GMC Report into deaths of doctors while under investigation for their practice (Supporting vulnerable doctors. Report on doctors who have died while under investigation or during a period of monitoring) but calls for investigations to be done as swiftly as due diligence and thoroughness will allow. 

The report states that over the 3-year period (1 Jan 2018 – 31 Dec 2020) 29 doctors died while under GMC investigation or monitoring. Twenty of these were from natural causes, five were confirmed as suicide. 

DAUK recognises the importance of maintaining the highest professional standards and welcomes the transparency shown as well as the commitment to publish this data every three years by the GMC. Inevitably, the process of GMC investigation can cause the worst stress in a doctor’s career and damage both their physical and mental wellbeing. We remain concerned about the length of time these investigations take – we have heard cases where this has been in excess of 2 years. Quite often it is then difficult for people under investigations to find any employment. If they are from overseas, they also run the risk of their visa running out if they cannot find employment in that time. 

GP Dr Liz Croton, a member of DAUK’s GP Committee, said:

‘DAUK has supported a number of doctors undergoing GMC investigation over the years. We are aware of how distressing this process is for individuals and their families. We welcome this report from the GMC and we would support any process that aims to learn from these tragic events to better support doctors undergoing investigation.”

DAUK Chair Dr Jenny Vaughan said: 

“Investigations have to be thorough –  but so does the need to ensure the psychological wellbeing of the doctor under investigation. The tragedy of someone taking their own life is a devastating event and must be avoided, as far as possible. Urgent legislative reform is needed as this should allow greater flexibility to resolve concerns more quickly.  Publishing these findings is a positive step forward. The government should ensure reform of the GMC and its Fitness to Practice procedures is brought forward as a top priority.”

See our press release.