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Is GMC Watchdog Powerless?

Reports show that doctors who have been banned by the General Medical Council, due to them being considered a danger to the public, are ignoring the sanctions against them and are continuing to practice. Various experts including former Presidents of the GMC admit the situation is intolerable. They warn that patients are not being given sufficient protection against the dishonest and potentially dangerous doctors.

Since 2009, seventeen cases relating to doctors working in breach of imposed restrictions have been uncovered, by way of Freedom of Information requests. They included four who were discovered treating patients despite being suspended. These cases are only those of which the GMC is aware!

One example of the danger posed by this type of practitioner is displayed by the conviction of a GP for negligence, who prescribed Calpol for a baby who later died from meningitis. This practitioner was allowed to work for an out-of-hours firm without informing them he was permitted restricted duties only.

Another instance concerned a doctor Godwin Duru, who reportedly qualified in Nigeria. This practitioner was informed he could only work under supervision at all times. This had to be under the auspices of another doctor to ensure he did not repeat previous errors! However, in 2009, doctor Duru secured a job with “Herts Urgent Care”, also an out-of-hours concern, without advising them of the restrictions imposed on him. The situation was revealed due to the complaints made by patients and following investigations by the firm regarding his past, he was immediately dismissed and suspended by the GMC.

A further example is that provided by a GP who had been imprisoned for three years, on possession of heroin related charges. He was able to obtain work with two different surgeries without the need of informing them of his past conviction.

During last year, the GMC suspended 106 doctors for terms of up to one year, with a further 72 doctors struck off. Approximately 30 were designated restricted duties and informed they were allowed only to work under imposed conditions.

The Chief Executive of the General medical Council, Mr. Niall Dickson, stated to the affect that the protection of patients must always be a priority. Doctors who break conditions or a suspension order, could expect swift and firm action against them. Behaviour of this kind would not be tolerated and those found practicing medicine when suspended are breaking the law and the matter would be notified to the police as well as action from the GMC.