Month: October 2017

Dismissed PTSD Officer wins right to sue for discrimination

Dismissed PTSD Officer wins right to sue for discrimination

A former Metropolitan police officer who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following an assault while on duty, but was dismissed by a misconduct panel who failed to take the PTSD into account, has been given the right to sue her bosses for discrimination at an employment tribunal.

The officer – named in court only as ‘P’ – said the misconduct panel which ended her career in 2012 had been guilty of disability discrimination because it failed to take her PTSD into account.

Previously, police officers could not bring proceedings in an  employment tribunal, to challenge the actions or decisions of the Panel, because it’s a judicial tribunal.

The Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday over-ruled this.  The ruling is a game-changer that determines that police internal misconduct panels do not enjoy judicial immunity and victims of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender or disability can now pursue discrimination claims against the police at an employment tribunal.

P (Appellant) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Respondent) – The Supreme Court

Case details

It is apparent that this judgement has further implications on other professions, panels and tribunals, including Police Medical Appeal Boards (PMABs).

The Supreme Court is highest authority in the interpretation of UK law and can not be appealed.  Such a judgement shines a light on the thought processes and current paradigm of our leading judges in how, and to whom, the Equality Act applies.

uksc-2016-0041-press-summary

 

Employment Judge Rules That The Equality Act Applies To Injury Awards

Employment Judge Rules That The Equality Act Applies To Injury Awards

Northumbria Police has  failed in its attempt to strike out a disability discrimination claim against a former officer with an injury award who Northumbria wanted to continue a review under Regulation 37 despite the former officer being sectioned in a mental health institution.

In perhaps the first judgement in employment law concerning the Police Injury Benefit Regulations, Employment Judge A M Buchanan (sitting alone) has ruled that the Regulations are an occupational pension in relation to the Equality Act 2010 (EqA).  Northumbria Police tried to persuade the court to dismiss the claim without a full hearing of all of the evidence on the basis the tribunal had no jurisdiction.

The immediate consequence is that Section 61 EqA is a gateway that allows discriminatory action to challenged in an Employment Tribunal, when it occurs in the administration of injury awards.

Judge Buchannen said;

I consider there is every reason why a nondiscrimination rule should apply to the Scheme. It is a scheme which clearly provides benefits in the nature of a pension

And he continued that the only forum to seek redress for such matters will be an Employment Tribunal;

I conclude that the matters which are sought to be litigated in these proceedings are not matters which fall within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court of the High Court or for that matter the Crown Court. The claimant does not seek to challenge the process per se but seeks to have a Tribunal adjudicate upon whether or not in doing what he has done the respondent has breached the provisions of the 2010 Act in the way he has carried out his duties.

The claim can now proceed to full trial.   If Northumbria appeal the preliminary judgement then it will be heard before an Employment Appeals Tribunal and become a stated case. The full judgement can be read below:

Mr DJ Curry v The Chief Constable of Northumbria Police: 2500281/2017 – GOV.UK

Employment Tribunal decision.

3 Big Data Myths: Busted

3 Big Data Myths: Busted

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”
― George Bernard ShawMajor Barbara

Myth #1:  Handwritten SMP notes belong to the Doctor

Having brought and subsequently lost a constructive dismissal claim, in 2014 and 2015, a Mr Percival made a series of Subject Access Requests to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) seeking access to the judge’s notes relating to the employment tribunal.

The MoJ initially resisted the request on the basis that judicial notes should not be disclosed as part of a subject access request. They argued that the Judge’s notes were not part of a “relevant filing system” so were not within the scope of the Data protection Act and that the MoJ were not the relevant data controller concerning the notes

The ICO also disagreed with the argument put forward by the MoJ that they were not the data controller, deciding that the MoJ became the data controller in relation to the notes as soon as they were included in the court file.

Accordingly, the ICO recommended that all personal data (including the Judge’s handwritten notes) should be provided. The judge’s notes were eventually released to Mr Percival in January 2017.

It is reported that the ICO letter to Mr Percival stated

there is no doubt that clarifying the nature of the relationship between judicial notes and the DPA is important … a decision on the relationship is likely to be far-reaching and extend well beyond the particular circumstances of your own case.”

Often SMP’s keep their scribbles to themselves.  The ICO advice makes it clear that if the SMP has used a pen during the appointment, then he or she is obliged to disclose what they have written in answer to a subject access request.


Myth #2:  consent to Disclose a report cannot be revoked when an Occupational Health Doctor is performing a work test for an employer

IODPA has already discussed the Access to Medical Reports Act.  You can refresh your knowledge here:

Access to Medical Reports Act

But what are the thoughts to the GMC on this matter?  Michael Keegan, Policy Adviser with the GMC’s Standards & Ethics Team made it quite clear in a 2009 letter he sent to the Faculty of Occupation Medicine.

GMC letter to FOM 2009

If a doctor makes a report based on that person’s own medical history, specific consent of disclosure is required.

Mr Keegan elucidates:

For the avoidance of doubt, I should state that the disclosure of a report expressing an opinion (on a patient’s fitness to work, for example) based on confidential information is a disclosure. I think that was common ground.

He contrasts this with a report authored with information that originated from the employer alone:

Reports based on information to which patients’ employers or insurers already have access are not disclosures for the purposes of this guidance, although the involvement and role of doctors should be explained as part of the information about the process.

Police forces do not have the information held on your GP medical records – this is why they demand full records from birth with poorly veiled threats to suspend awards on non-compliance.  They fail to realise by obtaining such information they then have statutory restrictions on any report or certificate they write based on such information.

This takes us to the final myth: they can’t keep the confidential, personal and sensitive data they already possess!


Myth #3:  A Police force can retain the personal CONFIDENTIAL & sensitive data of a retired officer forever in perpetuity “just in case

This debunk involves a Mr Herring who, having attended a Police Medical Appeals Board (‘PMAB’), approx 15 years ago recently discovered that the Avon and Somerset Constabulary still retained a full set of his medical records from birth. They attempted to justify this retention on the basis that the records were being held ‘just in case’ they were required at some point in the future. Case law confirms that once a medical assessment has been made under the PIBR 2006, then that decision is final and introducing or using previous medical information can be unlawful.

The case was taken to the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’) regarding the excessive retention and processing of data of personal sensitive information. After consultation with the National College of Policing (‘COP’), the ICO upheld the complaint, and instructed the Avon and Somerset Constabulary to cease processing this material forthwith and either destroy it, or return it to Mr Herring upon request.

We quote from the ICO’s advice to Mr Herring,

“…it would appear that the constabulary is excessively processing sensitive personal data about you. It would appear unnecessary for the constabulary to continue to retain information about your medical records, going right back to your birth.
We have therefore asked the constabulary to cease processing your medical records. We would recommend that you contact the constabulary directly to agree how best for them to do this; whether it be that they return the information to you or securely destroy it”

Mr Herring subsequently had his medical records returned to him.

There is therefore no justification or provision in law for holding or processing such excessive amounts of sensitive personal information. Many forces hold vast amounts of information relating to retired officers, and for no lawful reason. We understand that the COP will be issuing guidance to forces, but in the meantime it is open for all retired officers to contact their force and ask for the return of their data. We would also encourage them to do so.

 

 

 

 

SMPs Have No GMC Immunity

SMPs Have No GMC Immunity

…the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.”
[Defend the right to be offended (openDemocracy, 7 February 2005)]”
― Salman Rushdie

Pop quiz:  Have you heard of  General Medical Council v Meadow [2006] EWCA Civ 1390.  It was a judgement handed down by the Court of Appeal on 26 October 2006.

No?  Doesn’t ring a bell?  You are not alone. We’ve read the majority of literature published on selected medical practitioners (SMPs) and the relationship they have with the Police Injury Benefit Regulations but had never come across this case law either.

General Medical Council v Meadow [2006] EWCA Civ 1390 (26 October 2006)

You are here: BAILII Databases England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions General Medical Council v Meadow [2006] EWCA Civ 1390 (26 October 2006) URL: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2006/1390.html Cite as: [2006] EWCA Civ 1390, [2007] ICR 701, [2007] QB 462, [2007] 2 WLR 286, [2007] LS Law Medical 1, [2007] 1 FLR 1398, [2006] 3 FCR 447, [2007] 1 All ER 1, 92 BMLR 51, (2006) 92 BMLR 51, [2007] Fam Law 214, [2007] 1 QB 462, [2006] 44 EG 196

We have read, however, that Nicholas Wirz, solicitor for Northumbria police, thinks the GMC code of ethics and GMC guidelines are irrelevant to the function of a SMP.  He essentially has been advising that SMPS can behave badly towards IOD pensioners with no consequences from the GMC.

Remember, Wirz is the chap who is busy advising Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire how Regulation 33 can be stretched as thin as a cheapest, gossamer see-through pair of budget nylon tights. The visible result of this self-appointed quasi-guru’s meddling is that disabled former officers are seeing their injury pensions unlawfully reduced from band four to band one. The not so visible result is traumatised, bullied, frightened disabled former officers, many of whom are vulnerable due to mental health problems, and who feel they have no way of challenging the appalling behaviour of some SMPs.

Wirz says in his training material to SMPs

The GMC believes it has jurisdiction over medical practitioners performing a statutory function under the Regulations. Officers/Pensioners commonly make complaints to the GMC against both SMPs and those other medical practitioners the SMP instructs to assist with and inform the SMP process.Para 5.1 POLICE PENSIONS (SMP) DEVELOPMENT EVENT 31 JANUARY 2014 MR NICHOLAS WIRZ PRESENTATION

And then he continues to assert that this belief is mistaken:

The SMP takes their authority from the statute as interpreted by the courts. Does the GMC have any locus in these circumstances? In other scenarios where medical practitioners perform a judicial function, taking their authority from the relevant enabling legislation/common law, the GMC has no jurisdiction. An example would be the role of CoronerPara 5.2 POLICE PENSIONS (SMP) DEVELOPMENT EVENT 31 JANUARY 2014 MR NICHOLAS WIRZ PRESENTATION

So where does this proclamation by Wirz that the GMC has no jurisdiction leave us? In the training material referred to above, Wirz makes no reference at all to General Medical Council v Meadow. Why? We can not believe he is unaware of the case, nor fully cognisant of its implications for SMPs. Asking as we are, in this rhetorical way, it seems the judgement has some of the characteristics that Wirz would like to ignore. So he has done just that – he does not mention it. Wirz’s modus operandi is to present only material which appears to support his peculiar, warped, biased and objective-driven view of the Regulations.

This case concerned Professor Sir Roy Meadow, the infamous paediatrician, and his evidence in the case of Sally Clark, who became the victim of a miscarriage of justice when she was found guilty of the murder of her two elder sons.

The Fitness to Practise Panel (FTPP) of the GMC found serious professional misconduct to be proved, and ordered Professor Meadow’s name to be erased from the register. Professor Meadow appealed both against the finding of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure.

The GMC had sought to protect the public by removing Meadow’s registration. This action was in response to his serious professional misconduct, or impaired fitness to practice, which was evidenced by testimony given by him in a criminal court. The doctor’s appeal was based on a claim that the evidence given by him in court was privileged. Immunity is a common law concept. It is given to witnesses to encourage them to give evidence, and to avoid multiplicity of actions.

Meadow won the appeal on the argument that the purpose of the GMC’s FTP (fitness to practice) proceedings is not there to punish the practitioner for past misdoings but to protect the public against the acts and omissions of those doctors who have shown they are not fit to practise.

In other words the FTPP should look forward not back, and the FTPP got this wrong, so the GMC appeal failed.

The important part of the ruling is that the court did however rule that the GMC did indeed have the jurisdiction it claimed. There is no blanket immunity permissible for doctors to never be referred to the GMC for misconduct or impairment to practice. It depends on the type of misconduct or impairment.

Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke covered the GMC’s statutory function, powers and duties of the GMC as governed by the Medical Act 1983;

  1. It is I think inconceivable that the draftsman of any of these provisions could have thought that a person against whom there was a case to answer that he was guilty of serious professional misconduct or, now, that his fitness to practise was impaired, would or might be entitled to an immunity of the kind suggested here. Such immunity would, to my mind, be inconsistent or potentially inconsistent with the principle that only those who are fit to practise should be permitted to do so.

So on the matter of granting an immunity which had not, up to 2006 been explicitly recognised, the judge considered that the immunity did not need to be absolute.

There was no reason why the judge before whom an expert gave evidence (or the Court of Appeal where appropriate) should not refer his conduct to the relevant disciplinary body if satisfied that his conduct had fallen so far below what was expected of him as to merit disciplinary action.

Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke said in his judgement,

However, I should say at once that in this regard I accept the submission made by Mr Henderson on behalf of the GMC. It is that, although the need for fearlessness and the avoidance of a multiplicity of actions has been held to outweigh the private interest in civil redress, hence the immunity from civil suit, those public policy benefits do not and cannot (or at least should not) override the public interest in the protection of the public’s health and safety enshrined in the GMC’s statutory duty to bring FTP proceedings where a registered medical practitioner’s fitness to practise is impaired. A similar point can be made in the case of other professions and occupations, with more or less force depending upon the particular circumstances.

Meadow seemingly won the appeal on a technicality of the failings of the FTPP  – not because the GMC’s FTPP did not have jurisdiction.

All the doctors brainwashed by Nicholas Wirz via his ramblings presented at meetings of the NWEF and at the College of Policing should realise that the equivalent immunity from professional regulatory investigation or proceedings, which Wirz tells those gullible enough to listen to him applies to SMPs, has been held by the Court of Appeal to be contrary to the public interest in the case of expert witnesses.

Nowadays, the GMC has the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).  Whether or not the GMC case examiners or the investigation committee are satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of establishing that the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired, and so refers complaints to the MPTS,  is down to the facts of the matter being alleged.  Perhaps the conduct does or doesn’t touch on fitness to practice issues.  Maybe the matter concerns a breach of GMC guidance such as failing to treat the former officer as a patient or to ignore the requirements to disclose medical reports BEFORE disclosure to the force.  Guidance such as this  Confidentiality & Disclosure GMC.

But the take-home here is that Wirz is wrong yet again.  How many vulnerable former officers have not pursued complaints because he has told them the SMP is out of bounds?  Perhaps even Wirz knew about the GMC v Meadows judgement and wanted to bamboozle those about the threshold level required for the GMC to act. Who knows.  We know that there is a world of difference between “no jurisdiction” and  the threshold of fitness to practice to ensure patient safety.

In following this Court of Appeal, there is no exception. The GMC does not aim to resolve individual complaints or punish doctors for past mistakes, but rather to take action where needed in order to protect patients or maintain the public’s confidence in the medical profession.

You do know now, though, that any SMP who claims immunity from GMC ethics or guidelines, or claims that you are not his or her patient needs to read the above Court of Appeal judgement.

If you feel a SMP has harmed your health by his behaviour, or by his failure to put your health first, or by making unreasonable demands causing distress, such as insisting you travel a distance to see him or her, provide medical records from birth, or threaten you with reduction on your injury pension if you do not comply – or any other behaviour or omission which adversely impacts on your health, then complain to the GMC.

You are a ‘patient’ in the eyes of the GMC, and you have the right to be protected from doctors who are unfit to practice.

Grand Prize Draw Winning Tickets

Grand Prize Draw Winning Tickets

Our most heartfelt thanks to all our supporters who participated in our “Grand Prize Draw”.  With a huge amount of hard work and your generosity, we  have raised approximately £6130 !!

Those lucky winners unable to collect their prize in person will have it sent to them.  Please give us 14 days to sort out the logistics.

Here is the full prize list and the winning ticket for that prize:

Prize Winning Ticket Number
2 Nights B&B Old England Spa 5999
Bottle Shoulder Monkey Whisky 12627
£20 dining Voucher 19862
Painting by the “animal artist” Andy Bibbins (illustrator for Rick Stein’s tableware)  9691
£50 M&S voucher 7153
Signed Book “A Job with Bite” 2290
Knot Board 731
Makeup Gift Set 5048
Necklace 4545
Purse 5608
Bottle of wine 5513
Makeup Gift Set 214
Teddy 14269
Bottle of Wine 5324
£20 Green King voucher 18444
Spa Hamper Gift set 14620
£20 dining Voucher 7169
Wine Selection 10807
2 Nights B&B in the Quantocks 12580
Bottle Old Pultney Single Malt Whisky 11067
Jewellery Set 5986
Pizza Express Meal for 2 voucher 2131
2 tickets British Motor Museum 1070
£40 Hotel Chocolat Voucher 18889
Bottle of Gin 1811
Autographed Phil Taylor T-shirt 9409
Bottle of Parachute Regiment Port 13522
£20 Restuarant card (Belle Italia) 10293
Sandy Twigg Memorial Price £50 UK wide garden centre voucher 169131
Car Dash Camera  16731
Bottle of Glen Moray Gin 2696
Knots presentation board 6411
£50 Carluccios restaurant voucher 16828
5 port desktop network switch 7612
£25 Odeon voucher 14068
Bottle Famous Grouse Whisky 1860
£25 Joh Lewis voucher 18766
2 nights B&B “old england” spa hotel Lake District 5999
Bottle of Shoulder Monkey Whisky 12627
£20 Mitchel & Butler diners card (Harvester etc) 19862
Three Paintings by A. Reid 14491
£20 Green King voucher 9574
Lancome Tresor ladies perfume 3269
£30 Amazon voucher 18502
Painting “A Winter’s scene” 7645
£25 Odeon voucher & £25 Restuarant voucher 646
Polaroid Compact Camera 373
1881 Cerruti Ladies perfume 8953
Assorted Wines 18302
£30 M&S Voucher 13098
Bottle of Noa perfume 4845
Bag of cosmetics 1822
Bottle of Famous Grouse Whisky 819
Bottle of Famous Earl Whisky 14111
£25 Argos voucher 3764
Bottle of Tanqueray Gin 5765
Bottle of Grants Whisky 4470
Basket of mixed alcohol 415
Bottle of Champagne 11067
Set of jewellery 2877
Set of jewellery 18586
Bottle of Jamesons Whisky 11373
Knot Board 8831
Rugby clock 3523
Knot Board 14176
Knot Board 8995
Makeup Gift Set 10592