'Inhumane' GMC text messages leave GPs distressed

GP leaders have urged the GMC to halt text messages warning GPs they are about to receive 'an important letter', because recipients have been left terrified for days, often for no reason.

Dr Laurence Buckman: texts must stop
Dr Laurence Buckman: texts must stop

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said that GPs waiting to hear the outcome of their revalidation process are receiving texts from the GMC, usually at the weekend, warning them they are about to receive an ‘important letter’.

‘You can imagine a situation when somebody is feeling under pressure anyway, gets a text like this, not knowing what is in the letter,' he said. ‘The texting has got to stop.

‘If you got a text from the GMC on a Sunday you would think it is bad.

‘We would like them to stop doing it before something bad happens. This is inhumane.'

Dr Buckman, who received two standing ovations at his last UK GPC meeting as chairman on Thursday, before he stands down from the role next month, said the texts were being sent to GPs who had passed their revalidation and for those who have had their revalidation deferred.

He said: ‘One of the [GPC] members reported they got the text and spent the entire Sunday agonising over it, and the letter came on Monday and said "you are revalidated".'

GP magazine revealed that of 8,724 revalidation recommendations acted on by responsible officers between 3 December 2012 and 3 June 2013, 833 were deferred (9.6%), including for 351 GPs.

‘People are getting these texts and their appraiser didn’t know that these texts were going out and didn’t know they had been deferred,’ Dr Buckman said. ‘In some cases the responsible officer didn’t know they had been deferred either.

‘This is "nul points" for the GMC, who would probably be advised to stop texting people whatever the message is and I believe that somebody is going to have to do something about deferral on the basis of a piece of paperwork not being ready or some other technicality.'

A GMC spokesman was unavailable to comment at the time of going to press.

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