Doctors can be a jealous, bitter and twisted lot. There is no forgiveness in the profession. It appears that Raj Persaud crime was to be publically successful as a psychiatrist. He was a bit like the nice friendly dentist on the Colgate advertisements. Yes it is true he put his name to material that was not his, but generally Raj's books are well referenced, I know, I borrow the references. He was reported to the GMC for plagiarism, he was found guilty, he apologised and was suspended for three months. He has now resigned his job as a consultant psychiatrist. I am sure Dr Raj Persaud will not starve, nonetheless, the support he has recieved from his profession and colleagues is like the dog that did not bark in the night.
Is copyright really an issue for the GMC? Were any patients harmed in the publication of those articles? Was this for the GMC or his publishers to decide? It would also have been understandable had his academic body had an inquiry, or the publishers had words, apologised and paid appropriate compensation to the offended authors. Neither has happened. Instead the GMC has harassed one more doctor, the consequences of which have been out of all proportion to the offence.
The publically acceptable face of psychiatry has been disfigured. Who will replace him? I have yet to meet a psychiatrist who is both charismatic and enlightened. The nice ones are more Louis Walsh than John Travolta and the charismatic ones are more Hannibal Lecter than John Seargeant . Will people trust psychiatry and psychiatrists more, or less, now that the one psychiatrist who can express himself coherently has been discredited?
I have met Raj Persaud twice. The first time was as an inpatient in the Maudsley Hospital. He was the first and only doctor to treat me like a human being, to look me in the eye and answer my questions. He created enough of an impression that ten years later when he became famous , I instantly recognised him. As for all the other doctors who have "treated" me, with barely one exception, I don't even know their names. Whatever their professional jealousies, the Maudsley could have done better than force him to resign
Only Lord Owen has spoken out in support. The Medical Bloggers have been silent, The literary world admits, in hushed tones only, that perhaps the GMC reaction was a little extreme. His colleagues at the Maudsley chose to throw him to the wolves. Nonetheless, Raj, thanks for you talk yesterday at the Bipolar Organisation and thank you for honouring your commitment at such a difficult time.
Yet again, for evil to succeed it is enough to for good men to do nothing. If the penalty does not fit the crime, justice falls into disrepute. Public disgrace was not enough, Raj Persaud's colleagues also wanted his head on a plate.
Copyright (c) Dr. Liz Miller
Late apologies to Ward 87 - glad I am not the only doctor who has noticed this iniquity. To Bowlderise Voltaire "We may not approve of you completely, but we defend to the death your right to be you "