Dr Gordon Skinner: UK General Medical Council Blunders
Concerns about the conduct of the General Medical Council (GMC) that must be addressed GMC Fitness to Practice Hearing Dr. Gordon Skinner
1) Concerns about the conduct of the GMC Fitness to Practice (FTP) Dr. G R B Skinner in relation to Dr. G R B Skinner
2) Failure to keep accurate records of the Interim Orders Panel (IOP) of Dr. G R B Skinner
3) Wasteful use of time/financial resources at the Interim Orders Panel (IOP) of Dr. G R B Skinner
4) Failure to provide accurate information at the Interim Orders Panel (IOP) of Dr. G R B Skinner
5) Refusal to allow Dr. Skinner to speak at the Interim Orders Panel (IOP)
6) Provision of inaccurate information to the High Court of Justice.
7) Inappropriate requests for consent to obtain medical records.
8) Possibility of a biased Education Committee Member (ECM) at the GMC
9) Permitting IOP and FTP procedures to be misused to stifle open scientific debate.
10) Contravention of Article No. 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
11) Contravention of Article No. 2 and Article No. 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998
The following letter has been sent to each member of the Governing Body of the GMC on 7th May 2007 by a supporter of Dr. Skinner. There was no satisfactory response.
Dear Council Member,
The General Medical Council (GMC) is a registered charity (Reg. Charity No. 1089278) and on the GMC Website under the Section Code of Conduct and Guidance on The Register of Interests for members of the GMC and under the sub-heading Charity Trusteeship it states the following:
Members have a responsibility as Trustees to make sure that the GMC is acting within the law. Members who have specific concerns about the GMCs compliance with charity or other legislation should seek further information from the Chief Executive at the earliest opportunity and in the event that concerns remain, members should refer the matter to the Audit Committee which will report to the Council and, if appropriate, to the Charity Commission.
Therefore I wish to formally notify you of a number of concerns about the conduct of the GMC (some of which I have listed below) so that you ocean carry out your responsibility as a trustee and address these concerns in accordance with the above code of conduct and guidance.
Concerns about the conduct of the GMC in relation to Dr. G R B Skinner:
Ignoring Testimonials and information/evidence in support of Dr. GRB Skinner
Dr. Skinner put my wife and sister-in-law on the path to recovery after they became severely ill for many years due to NHS treatment protocols, which meant that their hypothyroidism was under treated. My wife and sister-in-law provided the GMC with testimonials and information in support of Dr. Skinner in December 2006 and although they have asked for confirmation that their testimonials and information in support of Dr. Skinner have been read by the GMC staff to whom copies were sent, they have still not received confirmation of this.
Their information contained their testimonials in support of Dr. Skinner and correspondence from their NHS endocrinologist (after discussion with his colleague who is a well known NHS endocrinologist), which demonstrated a consensus of opinion with Dr. Skinners treatment protocol and which enabled them to be provided with Dr. Skinners treatment protocol on the NHS. Surely this should have been treated as evidence in support of Dr. Skinner and they should have been informed that it had been read by the GMC staff to which it had been sent. How can the GMC continue to question Dr. Skinners treatment protocol, when in the case of my wife and sister-in-law, it has received the backing of the NHS.
Failure to keep accurate records of the Interim Orders Panel (IOP) of Dr. G R B Skinner
The GMC provided incorrect information in the record of the IOP for Dr. Skinner on Wednesday 29th June 2005. The record states that on 23rd February 2004 Dr. P C **** of the V****** Surgery wrote to the GMC regarding his treatment of a patient with the initials HR. It goes on to say that (she) has been fully registered with us on the NHS since 1.9.2004. How was it possible for Dr. PC**** to have written to the GMC on 23rd February 2004 with knowledge that a patient has been fully registered with them since a date that had not yet occurred? If the IOP records contain this error, its overall accuracy is called into question. Alternatively, if the error was made by Dr. C**** and then reproduced by the GMC, the accuracy of Dr. C****s record keeping would be called into question. If this were the case, it would be ironic, since part of Dr. Cs complaint regards record keeping. Why has this error not been corrected after so many IOPs? Can the IOP panellists confirm that they have actually read the increasingly unwieldy bundle of documents being used at each IOP?
Wasteful use of time/financial resources at the Interim Orders Panel (IOP) of Dr. GRB Skinner
Why do numerous pages of IOP transcripts revolve around the GMCs dislike of the way the notes Dr. Skinner provided had been paginated and their dislike of his use of Post-It notes? One IOP hearing that I attended revolved mainly around the issue of Dr. Skinner using Post-It notes when paginating bundles of documents requested by the GMC. Much time and expense was wasted by the GMC over a clerical issue that could have been resolved with a phone call rather than an IOP Hearing. After all, the GMC hadnt provided sufficient guidance as to how they required the documentation formatted prior to its submission.
Failure to provide accurate information at the Interim Orders Panel (IOP) of Dr. RGB Skinner
In addition, at the IOPs for Dr. Skinner, the GMC (and the Barrister for the GMC) has used the word patients instead of patient thereby implying that there have been many patient complaints when there has only ever been one complaint from one patient in Dr. Skinners professional life. At the last IOP, this exaggeration by the barrister for the GMC gave the misleadingly negative impression to the IOOP members and required correction. Again, this calls the accuracy of the proceedings into question. I would expect this error to be corrected and not to occur at future hearings.
Refusal to allow Dr. Skinner to speak at the Interim Orders Panel (IOP)
The Chairperson refused Dr. Skinners request to speak during the IOP hearing on the 15th June 2006. Furthermore, this was never recorded on the transcript for that date. Despite the fact that numerous witnesses (myself included) were present. In addition, my mother-in-law was informed by the GMC (in writing) that it was not normal practice for a doctor to be denied the opportunity to speak in his or her defence or ask questions at the appropriate stage during a hearing. This is clearly a contravention of Schedule Number 4, paragraph number 3b of the Medical Act 1983 (as amended to date), securing that a person in relation to whom an order has been made shall, if he so requires, be entitled to be heard by the panel on each occasion on which they review the order. This also puts into question the accuracy and validity of the GMCs IOP hearing transcripts, as they would appear to have been censored.
Provision of inaccurate information to the High Court of Justice
The GMC has removed a number of cases from the impending Fitness To Practice hearing for Dr. Skinner, but the GMC retained these cases in the papers of the Interim Orders Procedure and in the documents, which proceeded to the High Court of Justice asking for an extension of these procedures. Again, this calls the legality of the proceedings into question. Also what are the legal ramifications for providing inaccurate information to the High Court of Justice? Has the High Court of Justice been informed by the GMC that the GMC submitted inaccurate information as the GMC were notified of this error by Dr. Skinner some time ago? Should the extension of the procedures granted by the High Court of Justice be withdrawn forthwith? I turn your attention to the Code of Conduct and Guidance mentioned previously: Members have a responsibility as trustees to make sure that the GMC is acting within the law. Was the GMC acting unlawfully when it provided inaccurate information to the High Court of Justice? Is it usual for an organisation recently presented with the ISO 270001 Security Standard by the British Standards Institution (BSI) to make such an error? Please could you provide me with the name of the Court to which inaccurate information was submitted by the GMC and any relevant case numbers?
Inappropriate requests for consent to obtain medical records
On 12th January 2007 the GMC sent a letter to my wife and sister-in-law asking for a copy of their medical records or consent to obtain consent of their medical records to consider more closely the points you have raised in your letter of 1st December 2006 and the enclosed. When my wife and sister-ion-law did not wish to supply this consent for various reasons which they explained in their correspondence, the GMC stated in a letter written on 19th February 2007 that, Access to your medical records would have allowed greater consideration of the treatment that you received. Obviously, if we had found any cause for concern, we would have wishes to investigate further. Would making a request for this information (on 12th January 2007) without stating the full reasons until after the time of the request (on 19th February 2007) be a misuse of the Date Protection Act 1998? Furthermore, since they had written a supportive testimonial already backed by copies of the relevant information from their medical records and had not made a complaint, the GMCs request of 12th January 2007 and the GMC reasons for this request 9provided retrospectively) were most inappropriate.
Possibility of a biased Education Committee Member (ECM) at the GMC
The endocrinologist Professor Tony Weetman is listed on the GMC Website as a co-opted member of the GMC on the Education Committee. However, in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology with the quizzical title of Whos Thyroid Hormone Replacement is it Anyway? Professor Tony Weetman demonstrated that he has preconceived negative ideas about some of the groups of patients being helped by Dr. Skinner by stating the majority of patients who demand thyroid hormone treatment for multiple symptoms, despite normal thyroid function tests, have functional somatoform disorders. Therefore, due to concerns regarding his close links with the GMC and his lack of impartiality, please could you confirm that professor Weetman will not have any involvement in the forthcoming FTP for Dr. Skinner?
Permitting IOP and FTP procedures to be misused to stifle open scientific debate
In a GMC response to Bernard Jenkin MP (latest edition of ThyroidUK News), the GMC stated It is fair to say that Dr. Skinners approach to practise strongly divides opinion and that his supporters are as vocal on his behalf as are his critics. The issues are very complex, relating as they do to strongly held views over different approaches to medical treatment. However, Dr. Skinner has been attempting to resolve this issue by research and discussion. According to Diana Holmes in her book Tears Behind Closed Doors a conference was arranged for 19th October 2000 by Dr. Skinner to discuss diagnosis and treatment of clinically hypothyroid, but bio chemically euthyroid patients with thyroid replacement therapy. Many endocrinologists were invited but every single one refused to attend. Is it fair that instead of engaging Dr. Skinner, and other medical practitioners who share similar views in open scientific debate, the GMC is permitting critics of the treatment protocols used by Dr. Skinner and others, to misuse IOP and FTP procedures to attempt to silence opposing views?
Contravention of Article No. 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998
The GMC has informed my wife (in writing) that the GMC is responsible for investigating and presenting the case against Dr. Skinner at a Fitness to Practice Panel. Surely the GMC should also consider positive evidence in favour of Dr. Skinner and the numerous patient testimonials that have been sent in support of Dr. Skinner. This statement indicates that Dr. Skinner is not being treated fairly by the GMC. Do all the miscarriages of justice listed so far contravene article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998? Does the unreasonable length of time that this investigation has taken to date contravene Article No. 6 of the Human Rights Act? On the GMC Website under the heading Investigating Concerns and the sub heading At the end of the investigation Case Examiners it states the following: At the end of the investigation by the GMC of allegations against a doctor, the case will be considered by two senior GMC staff known as Case Examiners, (one medical and one non-medical).
a) Conclude the case with no further action
b) Issue a warning
c) Refer the case to a Fitness to Practice Panel
d) Agree undertakings on health and performance issues following a health or performance assessment
In light of the enormous amount of patients providing support for Dr. Skinner in person at the GMC and via letters to the GMC, it is incredulous that this case has not already been concluded with no further action and this throws grave doubts on the impartiality of the GMC staff involved including the Case Examiners.
Contravention of Article No. 2 and Article No. 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998
I am concerned that the members of the Interim orders Panel and the Fitness to Practice Panel are not listening to the numerous letters in support of Dr. Skinner. If the GMC prevents Dr. Skinner from providing the treatment that his patients need, the individuals working for the GMC would be responsible for the disability and risk of death that his patients would face. Would the GMC/individuals concerns be legally liable in such a situation and would such a circumstance be interpreted as a potential contravention of Article 2 and Article 3 of the Humans Rights Act 1998? Would the GMC staff concerned, including the Case Examiners face potential liability under Articles, 2, 3 and 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998?
Since I have made the above concerns about the conduct of the GMC known to you, you (as an individual council member and trustee) are now obliged to take urgent action to address the points, which I have raised. The case against Dr. Skinner should be dropped by the GMC and Dr. Skinner should be given an apology by the GMC. Dr. Skinner is restoring his patients to health and saving lives. If the GMC takes any action against Dr. Skinner at the impending FTP Hearing, the GMC would be placing the health and lives of his patients at risk and this must not be allowed to happen.
I understand that the Charity Commission will look into complaints against charities where there is harm, or the risk of harm but I hope that the situation can be resolved quickly so that this stage does not become necessary.
I look forward to your individual reply as a matter of urgency.
Copies of this letter have been sent to the following:
Dr.G R B Skinner & Afshan Ahmed
Mr R Shipway (Radcliffe Brasseur)
Dr. M Dudley (Medical Protection Society)
M/s Patricia Collins (Investigation Officer GMC)
M/s C Henesy (Assistant Registrar GMC)
M/s A Thompson (Adjudication Manager GMC)
Mr Andrew Wood (Assistant Registrar GMC)
Mr A Elliott (IOP, GMC)
M/s Dewhurst (Performance Assessment Officer GMC)
Mr P Swain (Head of Case Presentation GMC)
M/s R Goldsach (Adjudication Section GMC)
M/s C Floyd (Investigation Officer, FTP Directorate)
M/s J Oliver (Claimant Solicitor GMC)
Ms. T. Sawtell (GMC legal)
Mr Hiscock (Legal Assistant GMC)
Mr S Geddes (Head of Adjudication Management GMC)
The Charity Commission,
TheRt. Hon Patricia Hewitt MP
The Rt. Hon Peter Hain MP
Neil Hannah (Managing Director of the BSI)
Liberty, The Civil Liberties Trust
Dr. T Hertoghe
Dr. B Durrant-Peatfield
Dr. Sarah Myhill
Dr. I Hyams