HCSA warns GMC Chief Executive position 'untenable'

HCSA has today warned General Medical Council Chief Executive Charlie Massey that the GMC may never restore the confidence of the medical profession under his leadership.

HCSA, one of only two unions recognised by NHS Employers to negotiate on behalf of hospital doctors, warned that Mr Massey’s position had become untenable following his actions with regards junior Doctor Hadiza Bawa-Garba, who won her Court of Appeal case against the GMC in July.

The Association has raised several specific concerns around the conduct of the GMC Chief Executive, including his personal decision, without reference to the GMC council, to seek to override the findings of GMC’s own Tribunal service in the case of Dr Bawa-Garba.  

Mr Massey decided to do so based on paid legal advice from Ivan Hare QC, who then himself went on to represent the regulator in the High Court and subsequent Appeal hearing. In taking the decision to seek Dr Bawa-Garba's permanent erasure from the doctors' register, it appears that at no time was a second legal opinion sought by the GMC Chief Executive.  

Dr John West, HCSA executive member, said: “This is not a conclusion we have come to lightly, particularly given the tragedy of young Jack Adcock's death and the distress his family have already gone through, but the fact remains that the chief executive’s personal fingerprints are all over a case which has seen doctors’ confidence in the GMC collapse. 

“The level of distrust and anger that we are seeing among hospital doctors has prompted begrudging apologies and a review into the laws surrounding such cases. Yet at no point has the Chief Executive of the GMC taken personal responsibility for his actions. Indeed, we continue to await an acknowledgement that he was incorrect to seek to overturn the considered view of his own medical professional tribunal. 

“While there are wider cultural issues about the GMC’s treatment of doctors facing complaints, the gross mishandling of this specific case, including the decision to launch a renewed personal attack on the integrity of Dr Bawa-Garba as part of the GMC’s defence in the Appeal court, appears to be the sole responsibility of Charlie Massey. 

“It now seems that the GMC will only be able to draw a line under this disastrous episode via the departure of its main architect.”