“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.”― Herman Melville
Were Melville commenting today, he might well have had disabled former officers in mind as the ‘poor’ and the Force Medical Adviser of Avon and Somerset Constabulary as their well-warmed and well-fed critic. In Moby Dick, Melville frequently uses biblical and mythological allusions. Like the Biblical Ahab, in Melville’s Ahab (and our well-fed critic) there is a desire for something that he isn’t entitled to and that isn’t good for him to have, to try to get it by foul means, and then to get his comeuppance in the form of an ironic reversal of his own evil deed.
Although not all injured-on-duty pensioners are in the dire straits of penury, they are all poor in respect of the way their injury pensions are administered. The habit of the pensioners is to be in constant bemusement over how those who have a duty to administer injury pensions within the law so easily, and so enthusiastically seek to pervert the meaning and intentions of the Regulations.
As we have repeatedly said on these pages, IODPA is not against reviews of degree of disablement. Chief Constables have a wide discretion on whether or not to conduct a regulation 37 review of degree of disablement. They can consider the matter at such intervals as may be appropriate. However, it is not appropriate to initiate a review as a potential cost saving measure.
Reviews can not be used to undo the finality of the last final decision even if a certain force medical officer considers the award to be “preposterous” (see below). We can only wonder just how he managed to come to that opinion. On what evidence did he base his consideration?
No matter what a FMA might think about any individual’s injury pension payment he surely must be aware that only a substantial alteration to the degree of disablement can permit a revision of the level of pension paid. Is the verdict of “preposterous” informed by a generalised assumption of some deficiency in the process of granting an injury award? The FMA must know that the causation and the substance of the award always remains final and can not be revisited at review.
We are writing here about not just any old FMA, but one Dr David Bulpitt MRCGP FFOM, who is the Force Medical Adviser of Avon and Somerset Constabulary. It is a telling reflection of the rather nasty and lawfully inaccurate attitudes prevalent in some quarters, that Dr Bulpitt appears to have an inflated ego of such magnitude that he wants to rewrite history and convert the decisions of his predecessors, into becoming his decisions.
Dr Bulpitt is not shy about voicing his rather skewed opinions on injury awards. He is not even a run-of-the-mill force medical adviser. He has a national platform – as the police representative for the Association of Local Authority Medical Advisers (ALAMA). Listed as a speaker in past ALAMA conferences for Occupational Health physicians who are “set on delivering the highest quality services and the best standards in patient care in the most effective manner”, you’d have thought his words would always exemplify the motto of ALAMA: “communication, education, consistency and quality of clinical practice of doctors providing Occupational Health Services” . Unfortunately for Dr Bulpitt, his words may well come back to haunt him.
As Will Rogers put it, “After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.”
In an intemperate email rant to the Police Workforce & Capability Unit at the Home Office, Dr Bulpitt displays his frustration and impuissance.
It seems he might well be vexed over his inheritance of the historical legacy of decisions that he thinks ‘he’ would not have made, conveniently ignoring that such attempts at historical revisionism is forbidden by the Regulations. An interesting stance, given Dr Bulpitt is not privy to the Zeitgeist and full facts which swayed the decisions of his predecessors.
His ego asks for more. The finality demanded by the Regulations is an affront to his wishful view of how things should be if he were in charge, and he can’t control his craving to fuel his desire to remove the injury awards of those retired from the force he represents, sacrificing his medical professionalism and independence in the process.
Frustrated by his impotence to alter history, he contacted the Home Office to tell them how hard-done-by he his.
[…] I suspect that you might be aware that we have a group of pensioners that are organising a campaign to resist having their pension reviewed.
So blinded by his own peculiar view of the Regulations, Dr Bulpitt actually thinks that a group of disabled former officers, who in their working lives were intent on seeing that the law was upheld, are now campaigning against reviews, per se. Dr Bulpitt not only has hold of the wrong end of the stick, he has the wrong stick altogether. We guess he is referring to IODPA. In which case, how has he missed the plainly, and oft-repeated, statement of our mission, which is to challenge all aspects of unlawful reviews and maladministration?
IODPA has never sought to frustrate legitimate, lawful review process, but, in Avon and Somerset, and elsewhere, finding a legitimate review is about as difficult as finding an honest, decent and professionally competent FMA or SMP (difficult but not impossible – they do exist but the good ones tend to avoid the debacles and imbroglios that always shadow bulk review programs).
Dr Bulpitt’s email continues in a manner that, perhaps unintentionally for him, actually answers his question of why pensioners do not want their injury award reviewed by Dr Bulpitt or anyone connected to Dr Bulpitt.
The issue is largely one of the Constabularies making in my view because they are on preposterous awards, frequently 100% and have hardly ever been reviewed if at all. One appears to never had anything wrong with them and another had a certificate stating they did not have a permanent condition but got an injury award anyway.
Who are the ‘they’ that Dr Bulpitt refers to? The group ‘resisting having their pensions reviewed’ are all medically retired former police officers unfortunate enough to be retired from Avon & Somerset and other forces across the country where the review process is clearly being managed contrary to the Regulations.
Among everything else wrong in his email, Dr Bulpitt has the nerve to call the deliberate unlawful actioning of recommendatory Home Office guidance that reduction to 0% of the degree of disablement all former police officers once reaching sixty-five years of age as, ‘acting in good faith’.
Oh! That’s OK then – it’s fine to carry out a public duty unlawfully as long as it is done in good faith. It’s perfectly fine to make an almighty cock-up, so long as it was done in good faith. It is acceptable to drive a coach and horses through the Regulations, bringing huge distress to disabled former officers and their families, so long as it is done in good faith.
This may be arguable in a pursuit of proving misfeasance in public office, an intentional tort rooted in bad faith, but the tone of Bulpitt’s email shows his intent is as far a polar opposite to a ‘good faith’ mistake as is possible. Dr Bulpitt’s unsolicited use of the term ‘good faith’ clearly shows he has the spectre of misfeasance in his mind; just saying it is all in good faith doesn’t make it so.
As sure as eggs are eggs, Dr Bulpitt wants to globally revise the award downwards of all those retired by Avon & Somerset. If this isn’t bad-faith then what is?
Do you think Dr Bulpitt paused for a minute and thought, as he typed his email, that it’s no wonder that people don’t want to be unlawfully reduced just because he, as the current force medical officer with only the scantiest knowledge of the circumstances, thinks there is nothing wrong with them and they shouldn’t have the award in the first place?
Or perhaps he feels he has sufficient knowledge. If so, he has been trawling through sensitive personal medical data which he has no right to access. The implication from his remarks amounts to a self-admission that Dr Bulpitt freely rummages around in the personal sensitive medical records of former police officers without consent. If that is the case, it is shocking to say the least. How else can he justify his generalisation that those retired in the past, ‘have nothing wrong with them’?
The bunker mentality seeps through the words of Dr Bulpitt.
Apart from a coordinated campaign of FOI requests, subject access requests and so on, they have been put in complaints to the GMC about our SMP. Not too dissimilar from the picture in many forces that I have worked with but this one is far more venomous and a lot of work has gone into worrying pensioners and frankly trying to smear the OH unit and the SMP by the Pipin group
Hold on there, Doctor. It sounds like you are saying that all complaints, all requests for information, and every attempt by injury on duty pensioners to shine some light into the murky recesses of the shambles that is the administration of their injury pensions, is done to annoy and smear? What utter hogwash! What a frankly outrageous attitude to display by someone who is supposedly trained and skilled in the art of diagnosis. What an example of bias overcoming logic.
Doc, your diagnosis is wrong. YOU, and the other people who have not got a clue about how to properly administer police injury pensions, are the disease. IODPA is the cure. We challenge because we have been attacked. We seek information because none is freely given out. We point out deficiencies because nobody has the wit or the will to remedy them unless backed into a corner.
It is people such as Dr Bulpitt and Dr Johnson, the SMP used by A&S, who are smearing the Occupational health unit. They are dragging the unit into disrepute by abusing the Regulations. Uncovering the truth of what is really going on cannot be twisted into smear campaign. Smear tactics differ from normal discourse or debate in that they do not bear upon the issues or arguments in question. On this website you will only find disclosure and arguments that always bear upon the focus of unlawful administration of injury awards.
The unguarded admission by Dr Bulpitt is another example in a long line of examples of how far some public officials will go in attempting to undermine legislation.
Frustrated that Avon & Somerset legal services advise that it is unlawful to reduce an injury pension banding where an IOD pensioner disagrees with the SMP’s report and withdraws consent for it to be disclosed to the police pension authority, Dr Bulpitt states that he is at a ‘crunch point’.
Prevented by the GMC to force the release of a report that a SMP makes on an individual and unable to revise an award without it, his considered reaction is to ask the Home Office to change the law for him to provide immunity for SMPs from oversight by the GMC.
I know that others have written about this but surely it is crazy to have the GMC overseeing the work to the SMP and insisting that the pensioner is our patient and that we must put their interests first?
Their insistence that we have to offer to share our report with the pensioner/applicant first is very difficult and potentially will prevent the review of pensions if, as my legal department tells me, we cannot alter the pension without that report and the pension authority cannot insist on it being released. They (the GMC) are adamant that we must put the pensioner first and if that means not adjusting a pension to the correct level then so be it. My concern is also that this is getting so unpleasant for doctors we are getting very limited in our selection of SMPs. FMAs are now very rarely employed and tend to turnover very quickly.
“We cannot alter the pension without that report”. Rather a conspicuously revealing and graphic sentence. He uses the accusation of a conspiracy to save money in a dismissive throwaway comment concerning a pensioner who was unlawfully reduced in – cough! – ‘good faith’ three years ago.
[redacted] is being investigated over a decision [redacted] took 3 years ago when [redacted] had been instructed to review a pensioner who had reached the age of 65 and drop their award (we now know that is incorrect of course but [redacted] acted in good faith at the time). [redacted] contacted the GMC but has been frustrated by the apparent lack of any understanding of the role. The pensioner had his pension restored at appeal but has now gone on a crusade, accusing [redacted ] of “colluding with the pension authority to save money”.
But “we” (not the independent and supposedly impartial SMP) want to alter the “preposterous” award, he says!
You can make your own mind-up whether Dr Bulpitt is seemingly in cahoots with others. The use of “we” in the above context goes nowhere in quashing any suspicion that the SMP is not totally his own man and the goal is to alter the pension in all circumstances. You don’t need to be a clairvoyant to predict the direction of the desired alteration.
The Faculty of Occupation Medicine, of which Dr Bulpitt holds the FFOM post-nominal, has a ‘Competency 4‘ that governs the relationship between the occupational health doctor and the patient.
The absence of the usual therapeutic relationship between patient and doctor does not exempt the doctor from his/her professional duties imposed on all members of the profession..
Dr Bulpitt appears adamant that this should not apply to some members of the public and it seems he thinks that the required doctor-patient relationship is absurd.
surely it is crazy to have the GMC overseeing the work to the SMP and insisting that the pensioner is our patient and that we must put their interests first
The role is described as quasi-judicial but I see little that is “quasi” about it. Surely it is not a doctor-patient relationship as we would understand
They (the GMC) are adamant that we must put the pensioner first and if that means not adjusting a pension to the correct level then so be it.
But it is not just the demands of the GMC, is it? To be a FMA or a SMP the National Attendance Management Forum demands a prerequisite of membership of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. It is Dr Bulpitt’s own specialty designated body that demands the same compliance.
Given the Regulations are paramount and the Home Office refuses to release any central guidance in relation to injury awards, Dr Bulpitt continues forlornly, with a sigh of desperation and acknowledgement that some forces refuse to review contrary to the Regulations.
Can anything be done about this because we are in danger of the whole thing grinding to a halt?
So far as I know the Met are still not carrying out any reviews and have stated publicly that they will not be doing so.
The Home Office sensibly skirts over the rant and calmly explains to Dr Bulpitt that the Regulations require a medical authority and the GMC therefore have primacy over the behaviour of any medical professional.
Thank you for your email. Whilst I understand your concerns and appreciate your comments it remains that as SMPs do fall within the remit of the GMC. You said that the GMC have been contacted to explain this issue but that the GMC do not seem to be understanding the role. Have any further attempts been made with the GMC to explain the role in further detail?
The Regulations state that the SMPs are being asked for a medical opinion and the fact that they sit under the remit of the GMC is something that cannot just be overridden through amendments to our legislation. It would be interesting to know more about the discussions which have been had with the GMC regarding this issue.
Dr Bulpitt, and others with similar mindset, appear to have a clear appreciation or understanding of the laws that regulate their conduct in this area, but still they do their utmost to get around them. When challenged, as we have so often witnessed in instances of other outrageous maladministration by public officials, they consistently fail to acknowledge that they have done anything wrong.
We are lucky here because our GMC liaison officer is very understanding and I took the precaution of warning him that he would start seeing complaints. Thus far the GMC has not felt any of the complaints against our SMP warranted investigation. This has not necessarily been the case elsewhere
It is worrisome that Dr Bulpitt has apparently arranged an ‘understanding’ with the local GMC liaison officer. Does this mean any complaint of wrongdoing is dismissed by the GMC responsible officer, regardless of the strengths and merits of the complaint?
Dr David Bulpitt’s position as Force Medical Officer has, we believe, become untenable with these shockingly offensive comments. He has demonised the entire population of disabled former officers who have injury awards, and his comments show extremely poor judgment and a surprising lack of sensitivity.
It is important that a doctor in a position of trust who is dealing with injured police officers and medically retired former officers enjoys public confidence and this is at risk with his continuing in the important role of Force Medical Officer.
We are so appalled at this insight into the recesses of the mind of Dr Bulpitt, and are so concerned about the bias and discriminatory attitudes which are revealed that we call for Dr Bulpitt to either resign quietly, or if he will not, for him to be dismissed.
If Avon and Somerset wishes to see a return to normalcy in its relationship with injury on duty pensioners and the emergence of good governance of police injury pensions, then this stumbling block named Bulpitt must go.
This is the full email chain. Keep in mind if this is what Bulpitt sees as a measured email to the Home Office, what is he saying and doing in the privacy of his own office?
[hover the cursor over the page to read all 4 pages or to download pdf]