Professor Christopher Bulstrode

Dr Helen Bright made this Freedom of Information request to General Medical Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by General Medical Council.

Dear General Medical Council,

How many complaints has General Medical Council received regarding Professor Bulstrode's non-declaration of conflict of interests regarding his sister Dr Jane Barton who had Fitness to Practice Proceedings against her at GMC while he was a member of council?

Yours faithfully,

Dr Helen Bright

FOI, General Medical Council

Dear Dr Bright

Information Request F11/3558/ME

Thank you for your e-mail of 6 February 2011 in which you request
information in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

We will consider your request and you will normally receive the
information you seek within the 20 working day limit set by the FOIA.

The FOIA lists a number of exemptions that may prevent the release of
part, or all, of the information that you have requested. We will make
an assessment of the requested information and if it is subject to an
exemption you will be informed of this, together with details of your
right of appeal.

Your request has been allocated to Mark Ellen. If you have any queries
concerning your request you can contact Mr Ellen on 0161 923 6347 or
email [email address].

Yours sincerely

Sarah Leigh
Information Access Team Administrator
0161 923 6398
[email address]

General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street
Manchester
M3 3AW

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Mark Ellen (0161 923 6347), General Medical Council

1 Attachment

Dear Dr Bright

Please see attached letter in repsonse to your e-mail of 6 February
2011.

Regards
Mark Ellen

Unless otherwise expressly agreed by the sender of this email, this communication may contain privileged or confidential information which is exempt from disclosure under UK law. This email and its attachments may not be used or disclosed except for the purpose for which it has been sent.

If you are not the addressee or have received this email in error, please do not read, print, re-transmit, store or act in reliance on it or any attachments. Instead, please email the sender and then immediately delete it.

General Medical Council

3 Hardman Street, Manchester, M3 3AW

Regents Place, 350 Euston Road, London, NW1 3JN

The Tun, 4 Jacksons Entry, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AE

Regus House, Falcon Drive, Cardiff Bay, CF10 4RU

9th Floor, Bedford House, 16-22 Bedford Street, Belfast, BT2 7FD

The GMC is a charity registered in England and Wales (1089278) and Scotland (SC037750)

Dear Mark Ellen (0161 923 6347),

I would like to request Internal Review of the response in view of the fact that Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998)principle I has been misapplied in refusing my request for information.

DPA Schedule 2 Section 3, 5(a) (d) and Schedule 3 Section 6 (a), (b) and Section 7 (1) (a) and 9 (b) allow the disclosure of the information asked for.

There are complaints made in public interest. You have not supplied Code of Public Interest test as applied for under different FOIA request. Breach of FOIA 2000.

Information requested is required for legal advice, it would be used in legal proceedings, it is necessary for measuring compliance with equality issues.

Professor Bulstrode was a member of the governing body of GMC and is a white English male. He has a duty to declare conflicts of interests just like everybody else. He did not. GMC did not take any action against him. This can be appealed through the courts, as you know. Court Procedure Rules allow the disclosure of this information too.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Helen Bright

Julian Graves (0161 923 6351), General Medical Council

Dear Dr Bright

Your appeal below has been forwarded to me for consideration. I will
consider your appeal in line with our comments and complaints procedure
for information requests. This sets a target response time of 20 working
days. I will endeavour to respond to you within this timeframe.

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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William Thackeray left an annotation ()

You may find that Information Tribunal case William Thackeray v IC & General Medical Council [EA/2009/0063] is relevant here.

http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c1766...

http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...

Dr Helen Bright left an annotation ()

Dear Mr William Thackeray,

So pleased that you watch these things like a hawk. I am grateful for your generous contribution.

Dr Helen Bright

Dr Helen Bright

Dear General Medical Council,

1. Please, provide full reasoning as to why there is public interest in not disclosing requested information and why do you think it is greater than public interest in disclosing this information. Please, consider the facts that there are outstanding complaints to GMC i.e. it is a disciplinary matter.

2. Please, provide additional information if Professor Bulstrode sat at any Council meetings where GMC policy regarding so called "end of life issues" were discussed.

3. Please, provide minutes of ail the council meetings where Professor Bulstrode made a contribution (written or oral).

Yours faithfully,

Dr Helen Bright

FOI, General Medical Council

Dear Dr Bright

Information request - F11/3642/JM

Thank you for your e-mail of 2 March 2011 in which you request
information in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

We will consider your request and you will normally receive the
information you seek within the 20 working day limit set by the FOIA.

The FOIA lists a number of exemptions that may prevent the release of
part, or all, of the information that you have requested. We will make
an assessment of the requested information and if it is subject to an
exemption you will be informed of this, together with details of your
right of appeal.

Your request has been allocated to Janet Mauldridge. If you have any
queries concerning your request you can contact Ms Mauldridge on 0161
923 6324 or email [email address].

Yours sincerely

Sarah Leigh
Information Access Team Administrator
0161 923 6398
[email address]

General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street
Manchester
M3 3AW

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Julian Graves (0161 923 6351), General Medical Council

Our ref: IAT/ME/F11/3558

Dear Dr Bright

I have now conducted a review of your request for the number of
complaints we have received regarding Professor Bulstrode's
non-declaration of conflict of interests regarding his sister Dr Jane
Barton.

Having done so I am satisfied that the original decision to refuse to
provide this information citing the FOIA exemption at Section
40(5)(b)(i) was correct. In my view disclosure of this information would
breach the First Principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) as the
processing of personal data in this matter would be neither fair nor
lawful. In this case there would be a requirement for a condition in
Schedule 2 of the DPA to be met and I do not consider that to be the
case.

In your request for internal review you have cited various sections of
the DPA which, in your view, would allow for disclosure of this
information. I have reviewed each of these and reject your argument on
each.

Firstly, you cite Schedule 2, Section 3:

"The processing is necessary for compliance with any legal obligation to
which the data controller is subject, other than an obligation imposed
by contract."

I do not consider there to be any legal obligation in place that
necessitates the disclosure of this information.

Secondly, you cite Schedule 2, Section 5(a):

"The processing is necessary-
(a) for the administration of justice"

I have not identified any reason why the disclosure of the requested
information would be 'necessary' for the administration of justice.

Thirdly, you cite Schedule 2, Section 5(d):
"The processing is necessary - (d) for the exercise of any other
functions of a public nature exercised in the public interest by any
person."

In this case we do not consider that disclosing the information you have
requested is 'necessary' for the exercise of the functions described in
this section.

Fourthly, you cite Schedule 3, Sections 6(a) and (b):

The processing-
(a) is necessary for the purpose of, or in connection with, any legal
proceedings (including prospective legal proceedings),
(b )is necessary for the purpose of obtaining legal advice

Again the main focus here is the word 'necessary' and we would argue
that disclosure of the number of complaints made against Professor
Bulstrode is not necessary in relation to either legal proceedings or
for the obtaining of legal advice.

Lastly you cite Section 7(1)(a) and 9(b). These sections relate to the
disclosure of personal data where the requestor is the subject of that
data. This is clearly not the case here and therefore these sections are
not of relevance.

I have provided a link below to a previous decision of the ICO relating
to doctors' complaint histories. I believe that your request is similar
to the background to this decision and do not believe that we are
compelled to disclose the requested information to you:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/...
.ashx

Finally, in summary, there is a clear disclosure process involved in the
investigation of complaints received against doctors. To disclose
information about those complaints outside of that prescribed disclosure
process would, in our view, be a breach of the First Principle of the
DPA as it would go beyond the expectations of both doctor and
complainant.

Should you remain dissatisfied with my decision on this matter you do
have a further right of complaint to the ICO. 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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Dr Helen Bright

Dear Julian Graves (0161 923 6351),

Thank you for your reply.

1. Section 7(1) of DPA 1998 certainly does apply as I am one of the people who made the complaint about Professor Bulstrode's non-declaration of his conflict of interests to GMC. So there is one complaint there and I was entitled to that confirmation even if I know it myself. The law does not say it must be unknown information to the one making the request. I expect there are other complaints about Professor Bulstrode non-declaration of conflicts of interests.

2. Professor Bulstrode did not declare his conflict of interests as per GMC policy which does require him to dosclose such information, when his sister Dr Jane Barton was investigated by GMC. Presumably, GMC council that he was member of does have management function and influence over investigations and other parts of GMC including your own department. Am I correct in saying that?

3. The case of Dr Barton had a lot of publicity and there have been various inquests into the care of her patients.

4. GMC does state to some complainants that if there is no widespread concern about the practice of a doctor it is unlikely to take action. Numbers do matter to GMC and GMC Expert Witnesses. So, ultimately it is about accountability.

5. GMC operates discriminatory policy when it comes to investigations of complaints about doctors. This is in breach of European Directive 2000/43/EC. There is a two tier system. Complaints about locum foreign doctors are fast tracked by GMC in keeping with prejudice that foreigners are just too dangerous. Dr Shipman and Dr Barton are clearly English and have been protected by GMC for a long time. Dr Shipman, I think, has the record of doing certain things. Maybe best not to say it. It appears that allegations in the case of Dr Barton, Professor Bulstrode's sister also had something rather similar in terms of medication administered, best not to say.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Helen Bright

Janet Mauldridge (0161 923 6324), General Medical Council

2 Attachments

Our ref: F11/3642/JM

Dear Dr Bright

Please find attached a response and attachment in connection with your
request for information.

Yours sincerely

Janet Mauldridge

Information Access Officer

0161 923 6324

[email address]

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Ann Reeves left an annotation ()

I also made a complaint against Professor Bulstrode for not declaring his conflict of interest that his sister Dr Jane Barton was under investigation. The GMC have known regarding Dr Jane Barton's over prescribing since 2000.

The GMC have also ignored my complaint making a mockery of their rules. They have stated that they were not aware of their relationship brother/sister until the start of the GMC Dr Jane Barton's hearing in 2009 when it was brought to their attention by the media!

Iain Wilson left an annotation ()

I also made a complaint about Bulstrode and his non disclosure, I was told that he was on education and training therefore not obliged to state an intrest as there was no conflict of intrest, however if my big sis had helped me in to oxford i would think i owed her a favour to... strange then he retired from the council when her hearing was decided.....
keep up your good work