DAUK statement on the outcome of Dr Sarah Benn’s MPTS hearing

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) is shocked and saddened by the sanction handed down to Dr Sarah Benn following her Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing.

We at DAUK understand that Dr Benn broke the law, an injunction that a US oil company had in place to prevent climate activists protesting outside its refinery, when she stood peacefully holding a small placard.

We also understand that patients must be able to trust doctors with their lives and health; doctors must make sure their conduct justifies their patients’ trust in them and the public’s trust in the profession.

We also understand that the MPTS must do what is necessary to protect the public and that sanctions must be imposed, even where this may lead to difficulties for a doctor. The GMC states that this is necessary to fulfil its statutory overarching objective to protect the public.

Not all doctors subject to a custodial sentence having broken the law have been sanctioned by the MPTS. The MPTS can use its discretion.

In handing down a five-month suspension from the medical register for Dr Benn, the General Medical Council (GMC) and the MPTS is telling doctors and the public that it will, however, sanction those doctors who want to protest, to try to raise serious concerns about the risk to public health from the greatest threat to global health the world has seen. A doctor will be sanctioned even when the world is at stake.

We passionately believe that doctors should always have a voice to speak out when patient safety is at risk and never be silenced when raising evidence-based concerns. Climate change, its effect on the planet, weather patterns, future health and even the survival of the human race is evidence based.

Did Dr Benn put patients at risk with her placard? Did Dr Benn bring the medical profession into disrepute? Did she put the trust of the public in their doctors at risk? We at DAUK believe that Dr Benn is actively trying to protect the public and is prepared to go to prison to do so.

We would argue that the profession has not been undermined by her actions, and the public is not concerned about one doctor trying to protect them and the planet but more by the inadequate response of the Government and organisations, including the GMC, to our overwhelming and unprecedented climate crisis.

We hope Dr Benn’s patients can see another doctor whilst she is unable to do so, having been a trusted and admired GP for 32 years.

We continue to stand alongside Dr Benn and would suggest the vast majority of the medical profession and the public do also.

We believe this case has been incredibly damaging to free speech and patient safety.

We urge the MPTS to reconsider and encourage Dr Benn to appeal.

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