‘We need to recognise the gravity of the climate crisis’

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has encouraged the General Medical Council (GMC) ‘to take more of a leading role’ in the work to combat climate change.

Dr Matt Lee, DAUK sustainability lead, reiterated the United Nations’ concerns that climate change is the ‘greatest threat to our health’ and that protesting on its own does not pose a threat to patient safety.

As such, he urged the GMC to ‘take into account the gravity of the crisis’ when considering tribunals for doctors due to climate activism.

He was commenting after the Guardian highlighted the case of retired GP Dr Sarah Benn, who faces a professional tribunal by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in April.

Dr Benn is one of three GPs who face being struck off for climate activism this year, reported the Guardian.

Dr Lee said: “DAUK is watching closely the progress of Dr Sarah Benn’s tribunal in April, as well as the planned tribunals for other doctors referred to the GMC due to climate activism.

“We strongly believe in the right to protest and do not feel that participating in protesting alone poses any threat to patient safety.

“We understand that the default following a criminal conviction is referral to the MPTS for review and tribunal but strongly encourage the GMC to take into account the gravity of the climate crisis.

“We also strongly encourage the GMC to consider whether these individuals pose a threat to patient safety, or whether they should in fact be considered as patient safety champions for speaking out against inaction on the greatest threat to our health.

“Additionally, we strongly encourage the GMC themselves to take more of a leading role in campaigning against climate change and fighting to safeguard all of our futures.”