To the Disability Rights Commission,
As a psychiatrist I am writing to express my strong concerns regarding the General Medical Councils approach towards doctor-patients who suffer from mental illness. I believe that their actions in these cases contravene the Disability Discrimination Act and as such are illegal.
I have been made aware of the following:-
1. Doctors who suffer from relapsing remitting conditions, for example bipolar affective disorder, are being prevented from working for protracted lengths of time (months-years) during periods when the doctor is fully well and able to function at work.
2. Doctors are called to GMC court hearings during which they are expected to justify behaviour that occurred when unwell and which is totally unrelated to their medical practice.
3. Doctors are expected to attend these hearings even when they are acutely unwell and would not be considered fit to plead in criminal proceedings.
4. Doctors are approached by the GMC by letters addressed to acute psychiatric wards while they are inpatients.
5. Doctors have been assessed by GMC appointed examiners for fitness to practice whilst acutely unwell and admitted formally under section 3 of the Mental health Act 1983 (i.e. sectioned).
The consequences of these actions are that doctors who suffer from mental illness are being forced to leave the medical profession. In addition I am aware of a number of doctors who have completed suicide whilst undergoing GMC health procedures.
I believe that the GMC procedures are an example of discrimination towards mental illness at the highest level within the medical profession.
I have contacted the Royal College of Psychiatrists expressing my concerns.
I would ask for your urgent advice and assistance in addressing these issues.
Dr XXXX MRCPsych
XXXX killed herself sometime around Febuary the 12th 2008
XXXX was a fervent campaigner for the rights of people with mental health problems, specifically doctors. Doctors are important, not because doctors are somehow special people, but because of their influence in society. If we cannot get our act together as to how to handle mental health issues, what hope is there for everyone else with mental health who does not have our privileges?
Copyright (c) Dr. Liz Miller