Some right things and a humility glug

Hoping to head off ‘witch hunt’ commentators and silent but disgruntled medics I sense may be lurking. Valerie Murphy has had numerous opportunities to ‘do the right thing’ over the last four and a half years. Right things and responsibilities. Below is a list of suggested right things based on my observations and experience of the GMC process.

Right things

(a) The early days

  • Say sorry. Your actions may or may not have contributed to what happened but just say sorry. Someone has died. [As a bit of an aside, a key thread running through this interminable process has been the importance of demonstrating remorse and insight. This can only start with with a genuine apology.]
  • Welcome a full and frank investigation into what happened and contribute to it openly and honestly.
  • Scrutinise your professional practice and involve a range of colleagues and others to help think through and understand what happened and why, and how it might be avoided in the future.

(b) Across the investigatory process

  • Avoid trying to cast blame elsewhere.
  • Be transparent, open and honest. Don’t, for example, ‘save’ information like an earlier death to share in a particular setting at a particular time.
  • You have a set of duties to adhere to. Try not to get sucked into shite practices that may be demonstrated by the Trust executive board or others.

(c) Interactions with your counsel

  • Instruct your barrister to treat everyone involved with respect and sensitivity.
  • Take ownership of your position and role in the investigatory process. If, for example, your barrister begins to ask unnecessary or distressing questions of a witness, tap her on the arm and close it down.
  • If something in the evidence upsets you, try and suck it up. The process should enable embellishments and more to be exposed. You don’t need to have your upset recorded.

During the tribunal

  • If particular issues or concerns with your professional practice are highlighted, work out appropriate ways to demonstrate you’ve improved them. Ask for help if you are unsure how to approach this.
  • Try, as much as is humanly possible, to turn up to every day of the hearing.
  • Think carefully about who you ask to be a character witness and make sure they are properly briefed about the importance of this and what is expected of them.

A final reflection is the professional arrogance medics can exhibit. I witnessed this on twitter this week when a discussion effectively ended with non-NHS commentators being dismissed as ‘armchair critics who wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the NHS’. I don’t know at what stage in the education or experience of being a medic this arrogance kicks in (I ain’t a medic). But I do wonder if a glug or two of humility is a good tonic every so often.


13 thoughts on “Some right things and a humility glug

  1. “The patronising disposition of unaccountable power”

    Published on 1 November 2017, this is the title of The Right Reverend James Jones KBE’s report into how families were treated after the Hillsborough disaster. There are many parallels with how bereaved families were treated at Sloven (and perhaps the NHS in general) particularly in respect of how Inquests are handled and the professional arrogance to which Sara refers.

    And, as for non-NHS commentators being dismissed as “armchair critics who wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the NHS”, we should remember the case of NHS whistle-blower, Maha Yassaie. She lost her job after raising concerns about patient safety only for an investigator to tell her she was too honest to work for the NHS! Perhaps we wouldn’t last 5 minutes for this very reason!

    Bishop Jones’s report is available at:

  2. Sara this attack on you is to be expected. .

    You have not been beaten back by the usual stingers thrown across the path of all parents battered and bereaved through indifference or incompetence.

    These powerful people are unused to being questioned, far less held to account.

    And they are a bit upset..

    The power status quo has been well and truly rattled.

    Comfort has been disturbed by dignity and resilience.

    Ritual anti challenge boulders have been steadily swept away.

    And tribal stings pulled.

    By you for your beautiful boy….-.

    and for all the lost boys and girls and grieving mums and dads, who have waited for ever for someone to say sorry. And mean it.

    ……..and, you have written it all down.

    Well done. Stand tall.



  3. You can be as arrogant as you like with people who cannot articulate that what you are prescribing to them is harming them. Who are checking the doctors and their methods? Presumably medical organisations that do not give a toss for people with LD.

    • Pauline – you are right: in the case of NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, the Medical Director is usually the Responsible Officer for doctors (including Consultants). This includes doctors’ revalidation. This is a clear conflicts of interest since adverse reports reflect poorly on the Medical Director’s supervisory skills.

      But then, what do you expect of a Medical Director (previously Clinical Director) of Sloven, who uses psychic powers to diagnoses people she has never met or even spoken to – all in an (unsuccessful) attempt to assist her CEO to avoid a meeting, inter alia with the Department of Health and NHS England.

  4. that is how all psychiatrists behave I’m amazed she admitted to anything all they are good for is giving drugs.. disgraceful “professionals” my arse callous, careless and indifferent all you need to know oh and avoid them at all costs. the eugenics argument is a valid one don’t forget in nazi Germany they tested the zylon b on mentally ill people first and most of the psychiatrists who colluded in this fled to the USA post war.

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