Do SMPs Put Their Patients First?

No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar
Abraham Lincoln

In our previous blog we looked at some serious misconceptions which have been implanted in the minds of SMPs. Now we need to focus some more on the shortcomings of certain SMPs.

For new readers, we first need to explain that the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006, govern a compensation scheme which grants pensions to officers injured and disabled in the line of duty who, as a result, have to leave the police service. The Regulations require the scheme managers to appoint a ‘duly qualified medical practitioner’ to decide certain medical questions. Usually, the medical professional is a doctor registered with the General Medical Council. The doctor, once appointed, is generally referred to as the Selected Medical Practitioner, or (‘SMP’)

We made the important point in the last blog that SMPs are nearly all doctors who have made a living not from healing and caring, but from finding work in the field of occupational medicine, formerly known as industrial medicine, where they spend their days concerned with the maintenance of health in the workplace, including prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries, with secondary objectives of maintaining and increasing productivity and social adjustment in the workplace.

Some SMPs have been misdirected over the nature and extent of their role within the Regulations. However, we do acknowledge that not all SMPs have been tainted by what can only be described as, pardon the pun, ‘indoctrination.’

We applaud all honest and decent SMPs, and members of HR and Occupational Health departments in those forces where they have ignored or dismissed the nonsense touted by a small handful of people whose disreputable motivations are tinged with biased.

It needs to be made clear that all medical interviews and examinations conducted by SMPs are of damaged people. Every officer or former officer they see will have suffered potentially life changing physical or mental injury. Many will have suffered both physical and mental damage. They deserve to be approached with kindness and understanding. Qualities which are entirely lacking in some SMPs.

The man on the Clapham omnibus would be forgiven for thinking that scheme managers and SMPs  would make their prime responsibility the welfare of the officer or former officer. Shamefully, that is generally not the case.

For example, we hear frequently of the complete lack of any regard to the both the practical and psychological difficulties faced by officers and former officers when called to attend a medical examination or interview. It’s not hard to wonder at the unthinking attitude of any force which apparently sees nothing amiss in arranging for these SMP sessions to take place on police premises.

This should be the last place a traumatised individual should be asked to visit. This choice of venue is guaranteed to increase the risk of triggering flashbacks in PTSD sufferers, and inevitably gives the impression of an intention to control and dominate events. The oppressive nature of this arrangement illustrates the unhelpful attitude we see in some forces, where injured, disabled former officers are seen only as a drain on resources, Although they have left the force, are no longer employees, some forces deal with them as though they were.

Instead of being politely asked to attend a SMP session, they are often, ‘advised an appointment has been arranged’. No consideration given as to whether the place or the time, or the travelling to and from might be inconvenient or difficult for the individual.

IODPA believes that all SMP sessions should be held on neutral territory, preferably a medical facility, properly designed and equipped to cater for the needs of disabled people. SMP appointments should be made at a time and place convenient to the individual, not arranged entirely for the convenience of the force or the SMP.

Returning to misconceptions, one which some SMPs have acquired is thinking that they can lay down rules about how a medical interview and/or examination by them shall take place.

We have heard much about the unpleasant and coercive practice whereby the SMP asks the disabled person to complete a sort of customer satisfaction survey. No, you can’t take it with you to complete and send it. You must do it now, and no, you can’t have a copy. Complete it before I commence my examination and interview and if you don’t then I may not be able to proceed.

Coercive behaviour of that nature is unbecoming of any medical professional.

We have heard of SMPs who are never more happy than when their decisions are appealed. They can sit back and let the force’s legal department take over whilst they look forward to another fat fee for attending the appeal hearing. At the going rate for SMP services of a minimum of £250 an hour, that is as shady dealer Arthur Daley would say, ‘A nice little earner.’

We frequently are told of SMPs reports which bear little to no relation to what was said and done during an examination or interview. In the most extreme examples an SMP has told the pensioner that the decision will be no alteration in disablement, and hence no reduction in pension payments, only for the SMP’s report to show otherwise.

We have heard of venues where ‘security cameras’ capture the arrival of the disabled individual and follow their progress right into the room where the examination/interview is to take place. Whilst capturing video for security purposes is acceptable, it is not at all acceptable for an SMP to then view the footage to see how the disabled person arrives, whether they come by car, and what make and model of car, and whether they drive or not, or how they manage the stairs, opening doors, how they walk, etc. All done without the individuals knowledge or consent, and with a view to taking these observations into consideration when making a medical decision.

Mention of video recording leads us naturally into what has been a contentious issue, and the cause of much distress to disabled officers and former officers who are assessed by a SMP. The Regulations do not set out anything about audio or video recording. Nor do they grant any power whatever to SMPs to allow them to ban recording by the individual.

No honest SMP would see any reason to object to recording. Those who have objected can only have done with one objective in mind, and that is to prevent an accurate record of proceedings being made, so their version of events can not be successfully challenged.

We also hear, too frequently, of SMPs who either downright refuse or strongly object to the disabled individual having a friend, supporter, or carer present during the examination/interview. This of course gives rise to justified suspicion that the SMP wishes to place the individual at a disadvantage whilst also ensuring that there is no witness to the proceedings who might later dispute the SMP’s version of what was said and done.

Needless to say, the GMC and other medical professionals’ organisations advise all doctors conducting any professional interaction with individuals to allow a friend, carer or chaperone to be present if the patient so wishes.

And it is the use of the term ‘patient’ which some SMPs think gives them wriggle-room to behave in ways that contravene GMC guidelines. They claim that the individual is not their patient, so the guidelines don’t apply. In thinking this they are sorely mistaken and IODPA advises all its members and any non-members reading this that no SMP can refuse the individual having a friend, carer, supporter, or even a legal representative present.

It is frankly indicative of their combative mind-set that some SMPs would even dream of trying to refuse or object to the presence of a companion. Due variously to misinformation, lack of information, deficient expertise, even natural inclination, some SMPs see themselves as protectors of their force’s budgets. They are on a mission to seek out every little opportunity to find a reason however flimsy, however inventive, or however fly-in-the-face of the facts it is, to come to a decision which results in a reduction of benefits due.

In a blog published last year – https://iodpa.org/2018/07/03/recordingreviews we said:

IODPA therefore advocates that anyone who attends a medical interview or examination by a SMP, or any other doctor to whom they have been referred to by a SMP, should not only insist they are accompanied throughout by a friend, but should also make a recording of the entire event, and should do so openly.

We advise that the doctor be told the session is being recorded.

If any doctor objects, then the objection should be acknowledged and the doctor told they have no legal power to prevent the recording.

Doctors should have no cause to object, for a recording is as much a protection for them as is it is to the individual.

Recording is lawful because you are only processing your own personal information and are therefore exempt from data protection principles.

The recording remains the property of the individual, who may well find it could be admitted as evidence should they decide to appeal any decision made by the SMP, or if matters go to an  industrial tribunal or judicial review. The GMC will also likely accept the recording as evidence in any complaint proceedings against a doctor.

 

A SMP is supposed to be an independent medical expert whose role is to weigh all the medical evidence lawfully available in a truly disinterested manner. It should not be any concern of the SMP whether any decision they make results in financial advantage or disadvantage to the individual. Their responsibility is to the Regulations, which require them to make a decision, and by clear inference to make that decision free of bias, and with due consideration of all relevant factors, with the exclusion of irrelevant factors.

Presently, that is not happening universally. In plain terms, there is a whole lot of dodgy behaviour going on, both with some SMPs and with some HR and Occupational Health staff. In the worst cases the corruption has spread to the top of the tree.

For the sake of all that is decent, for the sake of the reputation of the medical profession, for the sake of the health and well being of disabled officers and former officers, this must stop.

Do SMPs Put Their Patients First?
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26 thoughts on “Do SMPs Put Their Patients First?

  • 2020-02-01 at 7:43 pm
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    There is nothing at all that is fair or impartial about these medical assessments. These SMP’s make serious money from these contracts and are in no doubt as to what is expected of them by their paymasters.
    There are no checks or balances to ensure a fair and equitable assessment but there are serious consequences for them.
    Several SMP’s have been shocked to find that their little gravy train carries significant risks to their professional reputation when those IOD’s who have been unfairly processed, ( and it is just that, a process ) have instituted proceedings against them.
    When dealing with subsequent reviews the SMP’s job is quite straightforward, to CONSIDER if there has been a SIGNIFICANT change in a persons injury since they were awarded or last assessed, whichever is the most recent.
    The process is not a reassessment it is a consideration as to the question of significant change of an injury from when they were awarded or last seen by the SMP.
    It is very clear that this would not provide a result that certain Police Pension Authorities are seeking. Clearly it is their intent to reduce the cost of IOD awards by ruthlessly twisting and ignoring the regulations.
    All we IOD pensioners ask for is to be treated fairly and within the Regulations.

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  • 2020-02-01 at 8:48 am
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    Don’t forget who pays the SMP wages and allows them to operate . The command teams love the work these people undertake and the term hired gun comes to mind. The corrupt ones like the former owner of a restaurant in Soho are career criminals and they operate across the uk. Police corruption what corruption

  • 2020-02-01 at 8:34 am
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    SMP’s paid to do a specific job by the organisation paying the bill.

    Regardless of any truth or fact the SMP will make each individual case fit the purposes of the organisation paying the bill.

    No honesty, no integrity, just a mercenary attitude to show willingness that the SMP completing the report will do it in such a way that the billpayer gets what they want.

    Clear, concise and accurate description of an SMP and their sole self serving purpose in life.

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  • 2020-01-24 at 2:08 pm
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    My GP once described SMP’s as failed GP’s who struggle to find a job in anything but Occupational Health jobs.
    When I hear of SMP’s spurred on by morally suspect Police employed lawyers and certain sycophant HR members, who have such a high opinion of themselves, that they feel untouchable. (Take a look at the flying squad in the 1970’s who thought the same!!)
    SMP’s feel their opinions far outweighs any NHS specialists report. A brief glimpse at these miscreants reveal a particular Lawyer from one force ringing other forces to try and get them to bend to his will.
    Documents pasted and copied to suit a particular case, as long as its not in favour of the IOD.
    PMAB’s held which have the solicitors and SMP’s particularly rubbing their grubby hands together for another fee courtesy of their deliberate false finding at the Reg 37 review.
    Compliant HR staff who know it goes on but are rewarded with promotions for keeping quiet by Directors of people.
    Your days on the gravy train are coming to an end, and a new career behind bars is coming.
    No solicitors, SMP’s or compliant HR Staff disposed to agree with others or obey rules, especially to an excessive degree were harmed during this blog ;D

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  • 2020-01-22 at 9:58 pm
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    I can never understand how and why SMP’s can and have ignored reports from experts in their field of medicine. SMP’s are lifted to the lofty heights of Demi gods and they actually believe they have super human powers.
    It is about time that these Doctors are brought down to planet earth and start to do the job properly. Surely anyone with a bit of common sense can see that if reviews and iod awards were done properly and within the regulations there would be no cause for complaint and forces would save money!
    Thanks to IODPA the lid is being lifted on the underhand and sometimes criminal behaviour of the police, HR and SMP’s keep it up because one day someone will take note and end this abusive behaviour.

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    • 2020-02-01 at 9:42 am
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      Whilst there are some SMPs who are decent, it is clear that abusive behaviour is exactly what is being pursued by several of the grubby little specimens masquerading as doctors in the role of SMP.
      They are despicable individuals who entirely betray the hypocritic oath they swore.

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  • 2020-01-21 at 7:02 pm
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    IODPA once again speaks truth to power. Thank goodness there are those that are willing to shine a light on those SMP’s /Lawyers & Forces who choose to ignore or misrepresent law or deliberately misinterpret such to suit their own financially motivated ends.
    Keep it up. We are stronger together.

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  • 2020-01-21 at 6:07 pm
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    Tells it like it is. It does indeed need to stop.

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  • 2020-01-21 at 4:42 pm
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    A recent SAR requested by myself has shown that both TVP’s SMP andTVP’s ex pensions manager both breached the DPA and provided false statement to an earlier ICO complaint. It took me a year to obtain the SAR with TVP steadfastly refusing its release however with the intervention again of the ICO, the data was reluctantly released. The terms hook, line and sinker come to mind! I would love to go into detail however to avoid any hint of sub judice all i will say is that the matter is firmly in the hands of the ICO along, with the irrefutable evidence from within the SAR. This again evidences how these people have no respect for the law, process or guidance and believe they can ride roughshod over pensioners, it also raises the question as to why an ICO complainant is not given sight of the respondents submissions at the time yet the converse is true. I thought we were all on a level playing field!

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    • 2020-01-23 at 11:42 am
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      Just for your information, if the SMP for TVP you refer to has the initials C.V, please contact me as I already took legal proceedings for breach of data protection partly due to this SMP’s actions and the force concerned settled out of court.

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  • 2020-01-21 at 4:00 pm
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    The blog and subsequent comments paint an extremely distressing picture and accurately reflect my own experiences. The first review to which I was subjected took the SMP over two years to complete his report which was wildly inaccurate. I cannot imagine he waited that long to be paid for his services. So much time had elapsed from the point at which I was ‘reviewed’ that the force and my solicitor agreed it should be ignored and I should be ‘reassessed ‘ by a different SMP. That sounds fine, except the different SMP was one of those whose name has become a trigger for former colleagues suffering mental health issues, therefore I will not mention the name. Numerous adjectives could apply to this SMP’s manner and ethical standards – inconsiderate, abrasive, arrogant, rude, provocative, biased. Oh, how I wish I had the knowledge then, that is now available through IODPA. Then perhaps I would not be two bands lower than justified by what my earning capacity has been reduced to from the injury inflicted upon me. Medically, as a patient I have been treated by some wonderful, caring and skilful doctors. I cannot reconcile the SMPs I have encountered with any other members of the medical profession. They are a disgrace and clearly they were unable to survive in the mainstream medical profession. The General Medical Council needs to address this issue without further delay.

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    • 2020-02-01 at 9:49 am
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      Nail on head. It is impossible to reconcile some of the vile specimens in the role of SMP with the general medical profession.
      During the IHR process, three medical specialists commented about the SMP:
      One called him “a prat”
      Another called him “an underqualified idiot”
      The third asked “has the chief constable checked that this person is actually medically qualified?”

      “Doctor” V – this is your life !

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  • 2020-01-21 at 2:24 pm
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    Whatever happened to “first do no harm”?

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  • 2020-01-21 at 10:06 am
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    Once again IODPA shine a very bright light into the murky corners of corporate bean counting. The creatures of the dark scuttle away at the exposure. How in the name of anything sane can an SMP be independent when they do the bidding of their paymasters. Recordings have shown that they are not beyond telling downright lies, never mind bending the truth. The ‘Halcyon days’ are over for them, which is why many SMP’s have quit and gone elsewhere to sell their signature to the highest bidder. “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.” (Winston Spencer Churchill)

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  • 2020-01-20 at 11:32 pm
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    “Independent” – they plainly aren’t, but they should be and until they are they will dance to the tune of their paymasters who are equally unpleasant individuals. I fear this battle has a long way to go, unfortunately.

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  • 2020-01-20 at 10:51 pm
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    I’ve experienced dodgy SMP’s twice now. The first, was a doctor apparently greatly inflated by their own persona, no doubt encouraged by the ‘bullshit’ coming out of the ‘expert’ up North, as mentioned in the article.

    That person used terms like “Quasi Coroner” and “I act more like a judge than a doctor”, plus they expected a registered disabled person to go on a 90 mile round trip to be at their Surgery by 9am on a weekly morning. No apparent thought, or care for their patient. In fact tried to deny that there was a ‘doctor – patient’ relationship and that the legal timescales of the Access to Medical Reports Act, did not apply in these cases.

    Luckily, a very good legal team, thankfully provided by IODPA, managed to quash some of those excesses……..for now.

    The second SMP, was even worse, that doctor only being interested in following the force’s demands of ‘full medical records from birth’. That person was not interested in any Consultants, or GP’s reports and this very brief meeting, produced a pure travesty of a report, unchallengable, as having done so, that person left the UK, never to return.

    In my opinion, the whole system is corrupt and broken, as it suits only the force’s ‘penny pinchers’.
    Unfortunately getting it changed is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.

    However, like most corrupt systems, time is not on their side. History is littered with despotic regimes that have eventually fallen and I’m sure this one’s days are numbered too.

    You see, as IODPA grows and the message to serving and retired officers reaches more and more of those affected, eventually, those numbers who either know their rights, or are then supported by Iodpa to challenge corruption will continue to grow and I expect, as has happened to other corruption, the Government will be forced to act.

    Until that happens, our lawyers will continue to be busy people, but also, these corrupt medical ‘experts’, will continue to get fat on the fees chargeable.

    The time is right, Home Secretary, but are you going to bite this bullet now? If the Government wanted to fix one corrupt system in this country, during this new parliamentary period, it could well start with the current police Injury assessment process. Will they?………….

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  • 2020-01-20 at 10:33 pm
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    Everything said is absolutely correct
    What is an abrogation of natural justice in these reviews by SMP’s is officers not being given a fair hearing
    Also, it is plainly not right for one doctor to opine on any individual case
    I have been the subject of a few Dept.For Work and Pensions appeals in the past. In every case there has been a panel of three adjudicators, two of which were doctors and the third a clinician. Each meeting was recorded and the decision arrived at was a fair representation of the process and given in writing
    It is absolutely unfair for a non specialist doctor, performing as an SMP, to decide a case where he or she is not a specialist in the injury of the retired officer then being assessed
    I’ll stop at that

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  • 2020-01-20 at 10:08 pm
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    My experience was horrific. I spent 5 years battling against constant lies by a well known SMP. Between him and the HR Department of my Force I was nearly sent completely mad. This SMP mislead an appeal panel into misreading evidence from one of the many clinics I had attended following my injury. It was so clear that the evidence referred to the psychological and not the physical as it was written by the Psychologist I had seen on the same day as the Pain Consultant. The fact that that SMP and the Panel tried to imply a psychological report applied to my physical condition despite the Consultant completely contradicting that was hugely upsetting to me. They actually quoted that letter, completely ignoring the contractions in the letter that did actually apply to my physical condition. It lead to a battle with force legal and even my solicitor and became a right mess. In the end I was sent to another appeal which was cancelled when I got there because they realised that the evidence had been misread and it should have gone back to the original panel. At that point I was told I needed to start all over again (that nearly broke me completely) and they offered me the opportunity to see that same SMP again a few months later at HQ. My force had had to apologise to me for their part in the screw up, so did my solicitor. All those involved, bar me, got a total ripping for the mistakes made, including the SMP who had failed to see me the second time and refused to issue a certificate and the original panel for refusing the force Pension Manager’s request for a review. As a result I was able to refuse to see that SMP again as the additional letter I had from the Psychologist they were misquoting proved that what I was saying was true and that it did in fact refer to the psychological aspect of my condition, not the physical. This was a letter that the SMP had had since the previous year, yet he had carried on with the same narrative.
    The SMP I finally saw, was very scathing about my treatment leading up to his appointment with me, he was extremely thorough and had clearly read the entirety of my evidence from the large number of Consultants I had seen including my own. Quite a few of his comments showed that his opinion of the previous SMP was pretty much the same as anyone else who has had to deal with him. I was finally granted my ill health retirement last year. Seven years after my injury. The disgusting treatment I received had done so much damage I have had to have a year out to get my head back to some sort of normality before I try to find a little part time job. I cannot look at the Police Station and had palpitations when I had to go meet a few ex colleagues there just before Christmas. I had to turn down going to a leaving do there as I just couldn’t face the place. I find it difficult to go into detail about what I went through as it just takes me back there. Something seriously needs to be done about SMPs who behave like this.
    Great piece IODPA. Great advice too. I will no doubt be called back at some point for a review of my injury award and will definitely speak to you guys first.

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  • 2020-01-20 at 8:10 pm
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    Another well written and informative blog, and good advice for those SMPs who wish to avoid an embarrassing court appearance.

    I wonder how many will take heed?…

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    • 2020-01-21 at 8:15 am
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      They get paid for their embarrassing appearances, stoked on by lawyers who also wish to milk the public gravy train purse for their own walk on part in the miserable proceedings.

      Until they are financially penalised, for their wrongdoings and the physical, mental and financial harm they cause……… will continue.

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  • 2020-01-20 at 8:09 pm
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    A perfect summary of what is happening in some Forces.

    Well done Iodpa, keep up the good work making pensioners aware of their rights and the regulations.

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    • 2020-01-20 at 8:36 pm
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      I’m a former retired officer from the Midlands.

      Whilst I have never met him I can tell the comments refer to the experiences of those who have seen in the infamous Willy Cheng aka Dr Cheng SMP.

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      • 2020-02-01 at 9:57 am
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        And “Doctor” Charles Vivian !

  • 2020-01-20 at 7:54 pm
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    From experience the doctors believe that they are the ‘gods who must be obeyed’ and same also could be said about the Medical Board after the dodgy medical.

    Recently my Dad was sent for to go to a board, some 3 hour journey (6 hours return) without even asking him if they could a) manage the journey or b) afford the journey or c) was the time convenient. Asking the questions might make them human.

    For information, (family) had to take two days off work and pay for the fuel and for overnight accommodation because Dad can’t use public transport. I had to stop every half hour so they could get out of the car and stretch, he was doped up on painkillers and antidepressants which he has been on since the day he got hammered, he has never asked for anything in his life from anyone but the doctors and the Police Service should be so proud of themselves, they made a grown man cry, reduced him to a shell and not once have they ever contacted us to see how he is or offered any help.

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    • 2020-01-21 at 1:16 pm
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      The individuals that put thumbs down to this comment should be deeply ashamed of themselves!

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      • 2020-01-23 at 11:50 am
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        The thumbs down could be a thumbs down at the behaviour of the police service and SMP rather than about the comment itself.

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