Exhausted. A terrible, terrible day following George Julian’s live tweeting of the General Medical Council (GMC) tribunal examining the conduct of LB’s ‘responsible’ clinician, Valerie Murphy. A tribunal that began back in August and is now spread across the next weekend or so.
Todays offering included a tangential figure – Prof Ted (a gut expert) on the phone to provide a character reference for Murphy – and an account of a travelling suitcase full of patient records. Murphy apparently asked Prof Ted to pluck records out of her suitcase, like drawing raffle numbers, to comment on her record writing skills. These are apparently top notch now. She’s learned not to keep them in her head.
Twitter commentators went into free fall. Eh? Audit? What records? With patient consent? Were they redacted? What price ethics? Murphy was unable to attend for undisclosed health reasons. She seemed to be following the @JusticeforLBgmc twitter feed as, late afternoon when her barrister phoned to ask how this ‘audit’ was conducted, she tried to re-shape the suitcase story into something slightly more robust. Apparently she selected the first fourteen patient records (whose?) alphabetically and stuffed them in her travelling suitcase. Prof Ted randomly selected eight records from these 14.
He unwittingly generated criteria for what to look for when choosing a character witness who doesn’t really know you. Not a big demand for such a role possibly but useful to a few maybe:
- Choose someone who barely knows you but is prepared to stick their hand into a dodgy travelling suitcase of patient records and describe this process under oath.
- Make sure they are so tangential in your life that you spend around 14 hours a year in situations in which your paths could cross.
- Make sure they are prepared to make outlandish statements about how good you are. For example, that you’re in the top 10% of consultants they’ve ever come across.
- And when pushed on this claim, they’re willing to state rubbish like having a PhD and ‘being helpful and willing to offer an opinion’ is evidence of being brilliant at your job.
Around late morning the GMC presented their submission. We were suddenly thrown into a space of rare sense. Suitcases and gut stuff ditched. The GMC arguments can be read on the @JusticeforLBgmc twitter feed. The statements that made me weep were around how it was not unreasonable for us to expect LB would be looked after in the unit. Chloe Fairley, the GMC barrister, made the point that Partridge’s cross-examination of me in August was an example of Murphy’s more general blame-casting which included nurses and support workers.
Rich and I broke off to eat our weight in takeaway nosh. Returning to twitter an hour later Partridge was presenting his submission. Right back to Gut Man and the suitcase. And Murphy’s ‘brainchild’ the ‘yellow card’. A shameless rip off of a well known government scheme on a pilot scale. The ‘yellow card’ was presented as Murphy’s contribution ‘to the profession’ to make sure no one ever died again.
Her entry back…
The fakery, sham and offensiveness of this redemption narrative, generated once the tribunal process was put in motion and not as an outcome of LB’s death, was difficult to sit through. The dripping of ‘madam’, ‘in my respectful submission’ and ‘very painful for her’ statements by Partridge were grotesque.
Tears and more tears.
The day ended around 5pm. It starts again tomorrow at 9.30am with a private hearing.
Writing about an ongoing tribunal (or inquest) process is something we’ve thought about. We concluded today the process is so flawed and stacked in favour of the ‘professionals’ it can’t matter.
The deep sadness I feel. For LB. For the callous and continued disregard of his life (and so many other lives) – presented today as a ‘single patient episode in 2013’ – is matched by the obscene acceptance of the clearly wrong by tribunal panels. By senior NHS officials, by Jeremy Hunt and so many others.
We’ll keep writing justice. As simple as. And not be bullied by the processes seem to be designed to silence. That’s all we can do.
[Thanks to @RoseAnnieFlo for the title of this post.]