Stress toll due to GMC probe shown

By a staff reporter

A GMC report ‘Doctors who have died while under investigation or during a period of monitoring’ is a further reminder of the need for reforms to the medical regulator to be implemented without delay, according to a defence body. 

The report shows that between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2020, of the 29 doctors who sadly died during the course of a GMC investigation or programme of monitoring, five died by suicide.

Dr Caroline Fryar, head of advisory services at the Medical Defence Union (MDU), called the report ‘sombre reading’. 

She said: ‘Members tell us time and again that undergoing a GMC investigation is one of the most difficult experiences of their professional lives. To learn that, over a period of three years, five doctors died by suicide while they were involved in the process is truly heart-breaking. Our first thoughts are with their families, friends and colleagues.’

The Government has committed to bring forward legislation to fundamentally reform the GMC – including the fitness-to-practise process. 

Dr Fryar said: ‘Today’s report is a further reminder why that reform is urgently needed, so the GMC can take a more flexible and responsive approach. We urge the Government to deliver that legislative change without delay.’ 

She said the MDU worked closely with the GMC to communicate the doctors’ perspective of investigations. While the GMC was not complacent, the investigation process in many instances still took far too long and added to doctors’ stress.

 Doctors experiencing health and well-being issues can find information on sources of support, such as its peer support network, on the MDU’s dedicated webpage.