Case Study – One too many investigations
Dr X, a Consultant Psychiatrist, approached MDS in 2017 having been referred to both a Disciplinary and GMC investigation and having felt extremely let down by his previous MDO and the handling of his matter. Concerns were initially raised by Dr X’s healthcare provider in relation to his performance and capability and Dr X was immediately suspended from work without any formal investigations being carried out by his employer. Dr X was suspended for a significant period of time and due to the stress of the ongoing investigations and lack of reasoning provided by his employer for his suspension, Dr X’s health began to seriously deteriorate. Dr X was extremely distressed when he first approached MDS. Our team arranged a personal meeting with Dr X to fully understand his version of events. Having carefully listened to Dr X, it became apparent that the allegations raised against Dr X were only raised by his employer shortly after he had raised concerns about being significantly overworked in his role. Dr X’s employers never acted upon those concerns and therefore it was obvious that the capability issues raised were to some extent interlinked with Dr X’s unfair workload.
MDS immediately advised Dr X to raise a grievance against his employer and seek assistance from Occupational Health which was never previously provided to Dr X. During this period, the internal investigation was placed on hold whilst his employers addressed Dr X’s grievance. This allowed MDS sufficient time to focus on the GMC investigation and assist Dr X in drafting a robust and supportive statement to rebut the allegations raised against him. As the allegations were in relation to clinical concerns, the drafting of Dr X’s response was worked on by both MDS Legal and MDS Medico-Legal teams. Following much analysis of the events that occurred, massive discrepancies in the information provided by the employer and Dr X’s actual actions were diligently addressed. In the meantime, MDS assisted Dr X in ensuring that he was receiving sufficient support with his health and liaised with his employers to enter into Without Prejudice settlement negotiations. Following this, Dr X’s employers made a nominal offer of settlement which MDS advised Dr X not to accept. MDS advised Dr X to pursue the matter further to the Employment Tribunal and involved top Counsel to provide a merits assessment on Dr X’s prospects of succeeding with claims of constructive unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. MDS effectively liaised with Acas and submitted Dr X’s Particulars of Claim.
The GMC finally provided their outcome having reviewed Dr X’s Rule 7 response. The Case Examiners who were reviewing the matter took heed on every point raised by MDS’s Medical Director and concluded the matter without any further action against Dr X. The GMC conclusion provided MDS with the perfect platform to enter into further settlement negotiations with Dr X’s employers. Whilst a Disciplinary Hearing was arranged, after much correspondence with Dr X’s employers, they finally agreed to settle the matter at the higher rate MDS proposed and agreed to drop all allegations and the internal investigation against Dr X. Dr X was overwhelmed by the outcome of both investigations and after 2 years’ worth of fighting, Dr X was finally free to return to practice elsewhere with no GMC restrictions and pocketing a decent sized settlement to make up for some of the stress and losses incurred.
• It is very common for Doctors to be subject to more than one investigation at a time and Dr X’s matter hopefully highlights the importance of having a strong team with multiple expertise and the ability to not only juggle more than one investigation but to handle each investigation tactfully to reach an overall favourable outcome.
• Whilst any investigation may result in financial implications, it is sometimes easy to forget the extent of the health implications that could affect the person under investigation. As such, it is always important to reach out for the right support at an early stage and your MDO should be able to guide you in the right direction.