The GMC and doctors’ suicides

In October 2014, Dr Margaret McCartney, in her “No Holds Barred” BMJ column, asked: “Does the GMC deserve its current powers?

Mgt Gmc

The full open-access text of Dr McCartney’s BMJ article can be accessed here

On the Friday before Christmas 2014, the GMC (the General Medical Council) published this internal Review: “Doctors who commit suicide while under GMC fitness to practise investigation”CropperCapture[1]

The PULSE reported this inquiry by highlighting the fact that the GMC plan to introduce “emotional resilience” training for all doctors:


This PULSE article on the GMC and doctors’ suicides has so far gathered 331 responses. This would appear to me to be unprecendented in recent PULSE history.

Meantime in the British Medical Journal, two letters have recently been published. The first by Dr Ben Bradley: “Who watches the GMC?

Ben Bradley, GMC

And the second letter by Christoph Lees: “The GMC and doctors’ suicides“:

Christoph Lees

I have put together these communications because if the GMC wishes to regulate against “any other behaviour that may undermine public confidence in doctors”  it needs to consider the potential consequences of such an approach. One risk is that such action may hamper “duty of candour” and thus patient safety. It may also risk further “disconnect between doctors and managers” (the GMC internal inquiry established that 54% of those who committed suicide had been referred by their employers).

Whilst it is essential that doctors have a strong regulator, the inevitable tensions and risks of the regulatory process need to be considered. I am writing this post to add my voice to those who urge that regulatory approaches taken by the GMC are more openly discussed.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.