Voice for justice
INQUEST HEARING - 25/02/2020 to 27/02/2020
The GMC’s communication to Dr Suresh played more than a minimal role in the death of Dr Suresh. He took his own life within a short time of receiving their letter.
The GMC acknowledge the profound impact its letters have. The GMC must know that persons accused of serious sexual misconduct, even if unfounded, are at risk of self-harm. And yet it failed to undertake any risk assessment before sending its communication to Dr Suresh. Given the torment Dr Suresh had suffered in the preceding weeks at the hands of other agencies, it was not unpredictable that the news that the GMC had begun investigation and intended to relay the unsubstantiated but horrible allegation of sexual misconduct to all the organisations he worked for would devastate Dr Suresh. Thus, the risk of his loss could have been foreseen.
On 27/02/2020, the inquest heard that while the others who contributed to this tragic loss of life have made changes and are willing to learn, the GMC, even almost two years after Dr Suresh’s death, has maintained the policy of not undertaking a risk assessment if no one tells it that the doctor may have mental health issues. How many more lives must be lost before the GMC will learn that its own communication may cause the loss of a healthy doctor’s life?
Leslie Thomas, QC for the family, has advised that under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act, the GMC has a duty to protect lives. The family of Dr Suresh believes that in his case the GMC failed to discharge this duty. And because of its failure to change its policy, it is continuing to do so.
Ms Farrell from the GMC told the inquest that the GMC does not have any protocol on how to break bad news to doctors. The GMC expects doctors to know how to break bad news, but when it comes to itself, it refuses even to learn. The GMC appears incapable of reflection and remediation, the very qualities that the GMC expects doctors to have. Ms Farrell told the inquest that she considers that making changes to their policy will be “challenging”; is it too challenging for the GMC to mitigate further loss of life? The GMC has refused to learn any lesson and mitigate risk to other lives of doctors in otherwise good health. This resonates with how the GMC behaved in the lead up to 2015 when they knew that lives were being lost but waited for another 2 years before making any changes, meanwhile 13 more doctors had lost their lives.
It is telling that nearly two years after the loss of Dr Suresh’s life there has been NO letter of
apology from the GMC. The GMC has said that it will conduct a review following the inquest, the family expects it to take urgent steps to mitigate. No further loss of life can be tolerated. The family will be watching; they will wish to learn what, if any, measures the GMC is putting in place. The campaign for change will continue: the GMC must comply with its statutory duty not to cause loss of life.
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The family has started the campaign in October 2022 to raise the Voice Of the Doctors. Need for Doctor's Charter was discussed in the Protecting Medics Conference.