Complaint to SRA
March 13th 2010
The Solicitors Regulation Authority firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ms Levis
Re: General Medical Council Solicitors
I am writing to complain about the actions of the General Medical Council Solicitors with regard to a complaint made against me, a private General Practitioner, by another GP. In the course of that inquiry, patients’ notes were taken, information essential to my defense was with-held from me and letters sent to the GMC by me appear to have been lost from the official record.
I believe that the GMC failed to follow proper procedures for the obtaining of private and confidential medical notes of patients during 2006 and 2007 and in so doing both acted illegally and also caused great distress to vulnerable patients.
I have three areas of concern: A The taking of patients’ notes without their knowledge, without patient permission, without applying the Public Interest test, without informing patients of their legal right to appeal against these actions and without anonymising notes. B. The apparent suppression of information essential to my defense C The apparent systematic pruning of my letters to the GMC so that they do not appear in the official record.
As a result of complaints made to the General Medical Council (GMC) about my fitness to practice as a doctor, the GMC chose to investigate. I am a private General Practitioner. For the sake of clarity, I would make the following two salient points about the nature of these complaints and the final outcome of the investigations by the GMC:
- None of these complaints were made by patients but rather emanated from other doctors. - All of the complaints against me were dropped without the cases even being brought before The Fitness to Practice Panel of the GMC.
A. As part of their investigations, the GMC obtained the private and confidential medical records of certain patients from their NHS GPs. In all cases these patients refused consent for the GMC to access their records, but they took them regardless.
Procedures for obtaining patient records where consent has been refused
The GMC has guidelines for obtaining patient records and these are detailed in a letter to me from GMC officer Patricia Collins. They are as follows:
“We do not have written procedures regarding access to patients’ records where a patient refuses access to them. If however we need to see a patient’s medical records to consider a complaint we will ask the patient for access to their records. Where a patient refuses access to the records we consider whether it is in the public interest to have sight of them. If we do not consider that this is the case then the matter ends there. If however we consider that there is a public interest argument for having sight of the records then it is open to us to obtain access under Section 35A of the medical Act 1983 (amended)….If we decide to take this action we inform the patient before serving a s35A Notice to allow them to contact us further or seek legal remedy to prevent access. We do not hold information regarding patients’ rights in this regard.” (letter from PC @ GMC, 21.06.07).
That is to say the GMC should have
• Made a written request for the patients’ notes explaining the reasons why these notes were being required. • Waited until they had written permission from the patients before taking their notes • If the patient had refused permission, then the “Public Interest” test should have been applied • If the ‘Public Interest’ test had been applied (and the required notes passed this test) and the patient had still refused access to their notes, then the patient should have been informed of their legal right to appeal against the purloining of their notes without their permission. • When the notes were taken, without permission, they should have been fully anonymised
These procedures were not followed by the GMC and this has caused huge stress to the patients concerned. In all cases the patients refused consent allowing access to their private and confidential medical notes and in all cases there is no evidence that the “Public Interest” test was applied.
Specific details about individual patients
In the case of PATIENT A : Patient A suffered from dementia and so she was represented by her daughter Mrs T Patient A’s GP Dr C complained about me (Dr Myhill) to the GMC on 26.9.05
• A letter was sent to Mrs CT from Dr C, on 3.2.06 requesting a meeting between Dr C and Mrs T with respect to her mother Patient A. • The GMC received a full copy of Patient A’s private and confidential patient notes in a covering letter from Dr C dated 7.2.06, 4 days after the above request • These confidential medical notes appear to have been taken without the patient’s knowledge or permission • Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) wrote to Dr C on 18.1.07 requesting the medical records of Patient A, when they had already received them a year before! • FFW also wrote to Patient A’s daughter, via Dr C, on 18.1.07 requesting consent for the release of notes, when in fact they already had them! • A letter refusing consent to access patient A’s notes from Patient A’s daughter Mrs T was sent to FFW on 7.2.07 who was still unaware her mother’s private and confidential medical notes had already been taken without her knowledge or permission. • FFW wrote to Patient A’s daughter on 24.4.07 stating they were using the clinical notes regardless of her refusal.
In the case of PATIENT C Patient C’s GP Dr F complained about me (Dr Myhill) to the GMC.
• The GMC requested copies of Patient C’s notes. Dr F consulted with Patient C on 19.10.05 • Initially Patient C consented verbally as Dr F led her to believe that her notes were to be used for medical research. • When Patient C realised she had been misled, she refused permission for her notes to be released to the GMC and I have her letter of refusal dated 24.10.05. • Patient C’s private and confidential medical notes were taken anyway, without her knowledge, on 9.2.06. Patient C was not informed of her legal right to appeal against that decision. • A letter requesting “release of medical notes” from FFW was sent to Dr F on 18.1.07 one year after they had already been taken! • A similar letter dated 18.1.07 was sent to Patient C asking her to sign a consent form to allow her notes to be released • A second letter of refusal was sent by Patient C on 13.03.07, who was still unaware that her notes had been taken without her knowledge or permission
In the case of PATIENT D : Dr M complained to the GMC (on behalf of Dr B) about me (Dr Myhill) on 24.11.06.
• On 14.2.06 Patient D wrote to Mr K, the practice manager, refusing consent to release his private and confidential medical records to the GMC and their solicitors • On 19.2.07 FFW wrote to Dr M requesting consent for the release of Patient D’s medical records • On 3.4.07 FFW wrote again to Patient D noting refusal of consent and informing him of a s35A statutory notice from the GMC served on Dr PM to access Patient D’s confidential medical notes without patient permission. • They stated that notes were to be taken “in the public interest” but did not state what that public interest was. • Dr M sent Patient D’s full medical records to FFW, but the notes were not anonymised either by the GP or FFW. Notes were sent to third parties, including myself. They contained highly sensitive medical information.
In the case of PATIENT K Patient K’s GP Dr N complained to the GMC about me (Dr Myhill) on 17.5.07 with respect to prescribing thyroid hormones.
• In his initial complaint about me Dr N sent sections of Patient K’s medical notes without her knowledge or permission. These were not anonymised. • In response to a letter from the GMC of 6.6.07 Dr N wrote on 20.6.07 stating that he had asked Patient K for consent to release her medical records. She refused on 20.6.07. She stated her concerns about release of her records and requested specificially that they should be anonymised should they be demanded against her will. • I presume that the clinical notes were sent to the GMC because they were subject to expert witness report alluded to in a letter to Dr N from the GMC on 18.10.07. (ref N file)
As you can see the GMC solicitors, have taken private and confidential patient notes for their own use and for distribution to third parties, without the permission or knowledge of the patients involved. No patient has been informed of their legal right to appeal. The public interest test does not appear to have been applied. In the one case where it was, the definition of “in the public interest” was not stated.
B – The GMC appear to collude with the complainant who with-held information essential to my defence.
A blood test performed on Patient D by his own GP, after Patient D consulted me, proved that he had hypothyroidism – the very condition I was accused of falsely diagnosing. The blood test results were, however, removed from the evidence bundle. I wrote to FFW and the GMC pointing out this error because the blood test results themselves would quash any complaints against me in the case of this patient. FFW did not respond on this matter, until Patient D himself wrote to them and said he had a copy of the blood test results in his possession, and would produce them at the Hearing. At which point, FFW miraculously produced their own copy! It is clear that at some point, these blood test results were removed from Patient D’s records – I presume by Dr B or Dr M, the complaining GPs. Yet no action was taken against these doctors and when I submitted a formal complaint against him, the GMC refused to investigate.
C. In response to each GMC allegation which I faced, I sent detailed and referenced responses. All of these responses appear to be missing from the GMC files. They did not appear in Freedom of Information searches, neither did they appear in the final file of documents which exonerated me. Also missing were many additional letters of concern which I sent to the GMC. The only letter from me which I found was my letter to Sir Graham Catto, President of the GMC – this letter was unacknowledged and not replied to.
In particular the following letters to the GMC and FFW are all missing from my file:
To Rachel Syed, GMC February 24th 2006 – response to NHS L allegations September 5th 2006 – state of play regarding NHS L complaint
To Nicola Forshaw, GMC May 27th 2006 – concerns over allegations from Drs F and C about prescribing thyroid hormones
To Katheryn Tindle, GMC September 6th 2006 – arrangements for conference call
To Mark Elliot, GMC December 3rd 2005 – concerns over false allegations from T and W
To Neil Jinks, GMC August 15th 2006 – response to allegations from Drs F and C
To Barry Baines, GMC 22nd November 2006 – responding to website allegations from NHS L
To Patricia Collins, GMC Feb 23rd 2007 – request for information April 15th - please reply to my questions May 13th 2007 - request for further information June 20th 2007 – request for information Aug 4th 2007 – concerns over complaints from Dr N, patient notes taken without consent. Aug 12th 2007 – concerns about patients’ notes being taken without permission Aug 12th 2007 – request for further information August 12th 2007 – concerns about my medical indemnity cover Your ref: 2005/2757 – Sept 12th 2007 – my letter to Patricia Collins – did FFW or GMC prune notes? Sept 12th 2007 – concerns over allegations from Dr N Sept 12th 2007 – concerns about L report Sept 14th 2007 - concerns that I was not being judged by my peers Sept 27th 2007 – my letter to PC raising concerns over FFW handling of my case. Oct 2nd 2007 – my letter to PC – concerns that information was being withheld from me. Oct 7th 2007 your ref: PC/2005/2755/01 – questions to complainant
To Andrew Wood, GMC June 9th 2007 – concerns over patients’ notes taken without permission June 12th 2007 – responding to allegations Drs M and B July 1st 2007 – responding to allegations July 9th 2007 – request to postpone Sept hearing July 15th 2007 – request for information August 6th 2007 – concerns over unfounded allegations from Dr F
To Rebecca Faulkner, GMC June 11th 2007 – concerns over postponement of Hearing
To Rosemarie Paul, FFW Sept 5th 2006 – concerns over GMC allegations October 7th 2006 – concerns over medical indemnity cover Feb 23rd 2007 – concerns over allegations which are incorrect Feb 4th 2007 – concerns over evidence against me Feb 18th 2007 – request for information March 2nd 2007 – information supplied re T case March 19th 2007 – why have allegations changed with no new evidence? March 23rd 2007 – new evidence June 1st 2007 – new evidence given June 2nd 2007 – concerns over expert witness reports June 5th 2007 – requesting postponement of Hearing June 26th 2007 – concerns over GMC procedures July 1st 2007 – requesting reasons why allegations were dropped
To Professor L, GMC expert witness, letters which he then passed on to the GMC April 22nd 2007 – concerns over factual inaccuracies May 6th 2007 - ditto November 23rd 2007 – ditto – inaccuracies not corrected
I asked the GMC to look into why all this correspondence went missing but they refuse to answer my request. So I request that you investigate these issues. I would like to suggest an initial meeting with you and for this to take place I would be happy to travel to your offices.