Doctor’s Support Group
President: Mr David Viniker
The SCP established its Study Group in 1985 under the chairmanship of the late Dr. Harry Jacobs (a past chairman of the Society) to look into the problems caused to hospital doctors by suspensions from work by NHS officials, pending the investigation of a complaint. The Group’s first two reports (1990 and 1999) demonstrated the damage inflicted on unfairly suspended practitioners, their families and, indeed, the NHS itself and tax payers too. The tireless work of Dr. Peter Tomlin to bring this injustice to an end has continued unremittingly.
Dr. Tomlin’s reports provide shocking conclusions;
The disciplinary process is heavily weighted against the suspended doctor.
Chief Executives and Personnel Department Managers are insufficiently trained to know what constitutes behaviour which could justify dismissal.
Doctors are not very good at recognising professional incompetence. Public safety would require that whistle blowers should be encouraged but (and there is a big but ..) The institutional racism in the NHS is so ingrained that Trust chief executives can no longer see it…
An Occupational Health Problem (March 2004) Suspended Doctors Group; victory in 2004
Report to SCP AGM 25 November 2004
Whistleblowing in government service is in the news (June 2005)
Readers should keep an eye upon reported experiences outside the NHS. Doubts have been raised about Dr Tomlin’s optimism last year that the NHS mismanagement of complaints had been brought under control. Ongoing perils for whistlers are featured in Hospital Doctor 23 June 2005, where Melanie Newman reports a spate of recent cases and notes that figures are not available for short-term suspensions. She highlights six cases and concludes that whistleblowers can still expect to be disciplined, whilst managers shown to have mishandled whistleblowing and suspensions can expect to remain in post. The disgraced paediatrician Prof. Southall tells in interview how he kept thinking his motives and actions would be understood, and never imagined it would reach the stage it did. The lottery of appeal arrangements in the Lord Chancellor’s departments was explored by the Editor in Justice of the Peace and he has shared frankly his own experience of whistleblowing in the Mental Health Review Tribunal, an ongoing saga continuing into its tenth year with a fifth referral to the Lord Chancellor for review. The Observer, 26 June 2005, p.7, features a vilified and traumatised whistleblower prison officer who, three years after complaining, has finally received an apology from the Director General and, following two unsatisfactory investigations, is set to gain a six-figure sum of compensation, having won her claim for unfair dismissal.
Comprehensive examination of disciplinary arrangements to which doctors have been subject as medical members of the Mental Health Review Tribunals (managed jointly by NHS and the Lord Chancellor) can be found at Points of View.