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Letter to the British Medical Journal-Lancet from Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield

I write to express my deep outrage that the General Medical Council has not been brought to account for the injustice and abuse of basic human rights that its newest, and most infamous creation, the Interim Orders Committee (IOC) daily and weekly commits. Brought into being in the wake of the Shipman case, to ensure doctors presenting a public risk should be identified quickly, it now abuses its wide powers to the extent that no doctor is safe.

Its basic premise is that it does not have to make its decisions commonly a lengthy and devastating suspension from the register on the basis of fact, or on evidence. It is there to listen to information. This information prepared at its leisure by the GMC, may, and usually does, comprise allegations, accusations, opinions and hearsay which the respondent doctor has two, or at the most three, weeks to consider. The doctor, or his hastily appointed solicitor, may provide his explanation, but, of course, may use no evidence to refute whats being said against him.

The conduct of the IOC beggars belief that it should form any part of a British legal system. The respondent should be considered innocent until proved guilty; and evidence should be considered to arrive at a verdict. Not only does this not happen, but the GMC considers it is fully justified in this abuse of common law.

I have watched in mounting horror and disbelief this process in action, and I quote from a most recent decision. The Panel has noted it is not its purpose to resolve conflict of evidence or determine facts In a previous paragraph it says the Panel has taken into account the evidence . Evidently, it was not sure where its position lay, but recovered itself later by saying that the allegations unproved, hearsay were serious, and it was entitled without evidence to make whatever arbitrary decision it chose.

I submit that the British Medical Association cannot allow this abuse of power to remain unquestioned and the GMC should be asked to account for itself. Like anyone else, doctors have rights in common law, but these have been taken away, and no one says anything.

Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield


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