Twenty-eight doctors with an open GMC case died by suicide 2005-2013. To address this issue, Professor Appleby began working with the GMC in December 2015, reviewing the fitness-to-practise process with the aim of reducing the risk of suicide in doctors facing investigation. He delivered his findings last week.
Detailed proposals have now been drawn up by Professor Appleby, a psychiatrist and Director of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness. The presentation was attended by Royal Colleges, the British Medical Association and other senior figures in health across the UK. The proposals will now be developed by the GMC and published in final form.
These include working towards having fewer doctors referred for investigation, and having a dedicated medical post ensuing mental health is factored in to decisions.
Importantly, investigations should be handled sensitively and communicated through one individual. Employers should also play a greater role and more funding should be identified for support services.
The GMC can now turn a tragic problem into positive steps that others can follow. It can make mental health safety a thread that runs throughout the organisation, influencing training, standards, leadership and culture
Professor Appleby said: “The GMC can now turn a tragic problem into positive steps that others can follow. It can make mental health safety a thread that runs throughout the organisation, influencing training, standards, leadership and culture.
“A permanent focus on mental health safety will help doctors who might otherwise be at risk of suicide, but it can go further – in time it can extend the potential benefits of these proposals to patients and staff.”
More information these proposals can be found on this GMC blog, written by Professor Appleby.
University of Manchester