menu ☰
menu ˟

My GMC Odyssey, Part 2: The Formal Complaint

08 Mar 2017

Dr Dermot Ward

Returning to the subject of the treatment of his colleague and friend the late Dr John Harding Price by the General Medical Council in the UK, Dr Dermot J Ward recounts his efforts to formally complain about the GMC’s reporting of his evidence at an appeal hearing.

I am writing this week on the topic of a formal complaint in the matter of the conduct of General Medical Council (GMC) Medical Practitioner Tribunal in England held in the Manchester GMC premises from May 8 to May 10, 2013, in respect of the late Dr John Harding Price’s appeal for restoration to the Medical Register of the GMC.

My formal complaint (Feb 3, 2016) was addressed to the Chief Executive at the GMC head office in London, who forwarded it to the Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service (MPTS) in Manchester, where fitness to practise hearings are now held.

I write this comment following an exchange of correspondence with MPTS officials in the Manchester outpost of the GMC, which supplied me with a transcript of that part of the proceedings claiming coverage solely of my giving evidence under oath.

I recommend that before reading further comment here that a copy of a previous article of mine entitled ‘Revamped General Medical Council revisited’, December 6, 2013, be read for reasons of facilitating the subsequent critical comments made by me.

The alleged transcript contains gross, even puzzling inaccuracies, in my view, which are at odds with the true picture of the hearing as posited by me (and agreed with by Dr Harding Price). In that original IMT piece he is anonymised as ‘Tom’.

Days 2 or 3?
Firstly, it is claimed that my examination under oath occurred on Day 2 (May 9, 2013). Indeed it is declared (by the Legal Assessor) in the transcript, Day TWO/55-In Public: “I have to say it is now 4.10 on the second day of this hearing.” This inaccuracy is repeated elsewhere. In fact, my examination under oath occurred on the third and last day (May 10, 2013), not on day two. This was also noted (and recorded in writing by Dr Harding Price).

Thus, the third day of the hearing is wrongly claimed to have occurred on the second day, by whom and to what purpose remains unclear to me.

Is this a typographical error? I had a thought that perhaps it might not appear fair that the sole appellant witness in a three-day hearing was not called to give evidence until the afternoon of the third and last day of the hearing? Where that thought came from, I don’t know.

What is so worrying is that the transcript of my examination under oath is, in my view, a misrepresentation of my views. And the elaborate courtesy extended farcically to me and the cast, in my view, is a travesty of the truth, and something I would never have expected to see.

My IMT article mentioned above was published in 2013, when there was no consideration of attempting to mount any challenge to that hearing. Yet there is, I believe, an attempt to invest the transcript with the genuine truth and incontestable honesty and reliability. The only true transcript possible given my claims would be a video link in which voices, my own included, of active participants in the process could be identified.

The frontispiece of the so-called ‘Recorded Transcript’ did usefully name members of the panel, and added that Dr Harding Price was not represented. As the process is adversarial (confirmed to me by the Legal Assessor in response to my enquiry) that of itself begs the question why was the appellant not provided with a defence lawyer by the GMC?

This is especially relevant when one remembers that the whole GMC function is funded by doctors’ monies. This makes the absence of Counsel for Defence in any MPTS adversarial hearing system a questionable comment on correct due process.

Having received from the MPTS the names of officers in Manchester from the alleged transcripts, I received correspondence from the Tribunal Service in their responding to my first letter to His Honour David Pearl as the senior legal personage based in the MPTS (23/03/2016).

Because of its importance, I arranged for that correspondence to be delivered by Royal Mail’s Recorded Delivery. I checked with Royal Mail and kept note of its progress through the mailing system.

My first check was made on April 8, 2016. The postal authorities confirmed the envelope had been delivered, but had not been signed for. I checked again on May 9, 2016, 11.55am with the same result message, “the item had been delivered” but once more had not been signed for.

Tribunal Service

I have received responses from the MPTS commenting on that letter to HH David Pearl. It had not been clear to me that their comments on my documentation (23/03/2016) to Judge Pearl had actually been endorsed by the Judge, more especially as the Royal Mail have declared my correspondence as having been delivered but not signed for. I therefore wrote again to him on April 10, 2016, requesting clarification of my concern and currently still await his response.

Incidentally, I did not regard my correspondence in this formal complaint as confidential (indeed the MPTS tribunals are open to the public and press), and I hope to bring you up to date (whether or not I have heard directly from Judge Pearl) in a further IMT piece.

As a footnote, Dr Arthur Conan Doyle revealed his view on a fundamental difference between medicine and law qua professions to his physician Dr Turner. Considering the account was in 1883, his observation is quite remarkable in contrasting the two: “Whoever heard of a congress of lawyers for the purpose of simplifying the law and discouraging litigation? Unhealthy times mean good times for medics.

“If they were to follow no higher dictates than those of their own interests, we should have the British Medical Association setting up a fund on foot for the impeding of drainage and stopping up of sewers. Of the 30,000 physicians and surgeons of the British Islands, the vast majority are practical philanthropists of the highest order.” (From a BMJ column ‘Between the lines’ by Theodore Dalrymple, BMJ 2012;345:e6345.)

Mind you, Dr Arthur Conan Doyle, wise as he was, was not a jurist in the same league as Oliver Wendell Holmes (the younger).

The post My GMC Odyssey, Part 2: The Formal Complaint appeared first on Irish Medical Times.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times: Opinion