Number of suicides of doctors under investigation

The request was partially successful.

[name removed] (Account suspended)

Dear General Medical Council,

1. Can you tell me how many doctors have died since 2012 under GMC investigation, at referral stage, prior or during a fitness to practice panel or within two years of an investigation being commenced including any formal warnings or any other action.

2. Of those that have died how many have been ruled by the coroner to have committed suicide since 2012?

3. How many of the above doctors have the GMC been informed about may have taken their lives with details made clear after death but without a ruling i.e a letter of concern to the GMC, medical concerns relayed to the GMC, suicide note mentioning the investigation, GMC or other.

4. What are the GMC doing to combat the stress and burnout related to investigations involving doctors.

5. A detailed breakdown of ethnic minorities and country of medical school graduation of the above will be useful.

Yours faithfully,

Dr [name removed] [name removed]

FOI, General Medical Council

Dear Dr [name removed]

Your information request F14/6707/ME 

Thank you for your email asking for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

We will consider your request and provide you with a response as soon as
we can, normally within the 20 working-day limit set by the FOIA.  

Please note that there may be some information which we cannot release to
you under the FOIA. If this is the case, we will let you know why and
state the relevant exemptions given in the FOIA. We will also give you
information about how to appeal our decision. 

I have allocated your request to Mark Ellen. If you have any questions,
please contact him on 0161 923 6347 or email [1][email address]. 

Yours sincerely 

Miss Sadie Jones

Information Assistant

[2][email address]

0161 250 6889

 

General Medical Council

3 Hardman Street

Manchester

M3 3AW

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[name removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI,

This has been delayed. Please explain why to avoid an ICO referral within the next few days.

Yours sincerely,

[name removed] [name removed]

Julian Graves (0161 923 6351), General Medical Council

Dear Dr [name removed]

I am extremely sorry for the delay in responding to your request. We are currently compiling a response and are checking some of the associated data. I fully expect us to be in a position to respond to you in the next few days.

Yours sincerely

Julian Graves

Julian Graves
Information Access Manager
General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street
Manchester
M3 3AW
 
Tel. no: 0161 923 6351
Email: [email address]

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Mark Ellen (0161 923 6347), General Medical Council

Dear Dr [name removed]

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) - Reference: IAT/ME/F14/6707

Thank you for your e-mail regarding doctors who have died whist there was an open GMC fitness to practise investigation concerning them or within two years of an investigation being commenced.

I can confirm that the total number of such doctors who have died since 1 January 2012 is 49.

As regards the other queries that you raise. The information we hold relating to doctors who have committed suicide covers the period up until 31 December 2013. We are currently conducting a review to examine cases where a doctor has died while under investigation. The purpose of the review is to consider if there is more we can do to support doctors with health problems in our procedures.

The review should be published soon and it will address the queries that you pose. Given that we intend to publish the information I consider that the following exemption, set out in the FOIA, applies to these parts of your request:

Section 22 of the FOIA - Information intended for future publication: This applies to information held by a public authority which is intended for publication at a future date. This exemption is subject to a public interest test. We believe that the public interest in maintaining the exemption and providing the information, with any necessary additional detail and explanation, outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information at this time.

You do have the right of appeal against this decision not to provide the information you seek at this time. If you wish to appeal please set out your grounds for doing so in writing and send to Julian Graves, Information Access Manager at [email address]. You also have the right of appeal to the Information Commissioner, the independent regulator of the FOIA. If appropriate, Mr Graves will provide the relevant details.

Finally I should add that we are fully aware that we have a duty of care to doctors in our procedures. When we take forward concerns about doctors we aim to do this as quickly, fairly and as sensitively as we can. To reduce the anxiety of fitness to practise proceedings we have introduced a number of reforms to reflect these aims.

Yours sincerely
Mark Ellen

Mark Ellen
Information Access Team
General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street
Manchester  M3 3AW
Direct Line: 0161 923 6347

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[name removed] (Account suspended)

Dear General Medical Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of General Medical Council's handling of my FOI request 'Number of suicides of doctors under investigation'.

There has not been a detailed response to queries. The information requested is in your domain and unlawful to not release it.

I will be making an ICO referral shortly if a full explanation is not forthcoming.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

Yours faithfully,

[name removed] [name removed]

FOI, General Medical Council

Dear Mr [name removed]

Thank you for your email of 19 December.

Your email will receive our attention in line with our comments and
complaints procedure for information requests. This sets a target response
time of 20 working days. We will endeavour to respond to you within this
timeframe.   

Julian Graves, Information Access Manager, will be responding to your
email. If you have any queries please contact him on 0161 923 6351, or
email [1][email address].

Yours sincerely  

Miss Sadie Jones

Information Assistant

[2][email address]

0161 250 6889

 

General Medical Council

3 Hardman Street

Manchester

M3 3AW

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Julian Graves (0161 923 6351), General Medical Council

Dear Dr [name removed]

I have now reviewed the FOIA response provided to you by my colleague Mark Ellen.

In your original request sent on 11 November 2014 you asked various questions about doctors who had died since 2012 whilst under GMC investigation.

In his response sent on 18 December 2014 Mr Ellen confirmed, in response to Q1, that 49 doctors had died since 1 January 2012 either whilst there was an open GMC fitness to practise investigation or within two years of such an investigation being commenced. In regard to your other questions Mr Ellen explained that the GMC was conducting a review of cases where a doctor was suspected of committing suicide whilst under GMC investigation. Given that this review was intended to be published and would answer your remaining questions, Mr Ellen used the exemption at s.22 of the FOIA (Information intended for future publication) as his justification for not providing further information at that stage. I am in agreement that this was a reasonable decision to have taken at that point.

Subsequent to Mr Ellen's response the GMC has now published the review. This is available on the GMC's website at the following link: http://www.gmc-uk.org/news/26011.asp I have now reviewed the report to confirm if all your questions are answered within the report. For ease of reference I have copied Qs 2-5 below together with my response to each point:

2. Of those that have died how many have been ruled by the coroner to have committed suicide since 2012?

Information on this question is contained at pages 22-23 of the report.

3. How many of the above doctors have the GMC been informed about may have taken their lives with details made clear after death but without a ruling i.e a letter of concern to the GMC, medical concerns relayed to the GMC, suicide note mentioning the investigation, GMC or other.

Page 21 of the report provides an analysis of the stage of the GMC's investigation at the time of the doctor's death.

4. What are the GMC doing to combat the stress and burnout related to investigations involving doctors.

I would refer you to the press release which accompanied the report. This is available at the link provided above.

5. A detailed breakdown of ethnic minorities and country of medical school graduation of the above will be useful.

Please see information below:

Ethnicity

Ethnic Origin - Level 1 # Doctors
Asian or Asian British 2
Unspecified 13
White 13
Total 28

Primary Medical Qualification Country # Doctors
Greece 1
Netherlands 2
Poland 1
India 1
South Africa 1
United Kingdom 22
Total 28

The GMC did not routinely record a doctor’s ethnicity prior to around 2009 and doctors are not required to provide their ethnicity to us. This is the likely reason for the high number of ‘unspecified’ responses within the ethnicity data.

Should you remain disappointed with our response on this matter specifically in relation to the DPA or the FOIA you do have a further right of complaint to the Information Commissioner, the regulator of the DPA and the FOIA. Their contact details are as follows:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Tel. no: 0303 123 1113
Email: [email address]

Yours sincerely

Julian Graves

Julian Graves
Information Access Manager
General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street
Manchester
M3 3AW

Tel. no: 0161 923 6351
Email: [email address]

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