The Shortcomings Of Certain SMPs

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 Selected Medical Practitioners (SMPs). Now we need to focus 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, who needs to be on the register maintained by the General Medical Council. The doctor, once appointed, is generally referred to as the SMP or selected medical practitioner.

We made the important point in the last blog that SMPs are nearly all doctors who have not made it their professional objective to do what is accepted to be the main work of doctors, such as healing the sick, researching for cures to diseases, or caring for the terminally ill. Instead, they chose to find work in the field of occupational medicine, formerly known as industrial medicine, where they spend their days, to quote, from various sources, ‘. . . concerned with the maintenance of health in the workplace, with secondary objectives of maintaining and increasing productivity and social adjustment in the workplace.’

An objective observer may consider there is an inbuilt conflict of interest where a doctor is employed by a commercial organisation in a role which is essentially to assist productivity.

It might also be thought that an occupational health doctor employed in the public sector would be free of any hint of conflict of interest, for there is no pressure on them to have an eye on their employer’s profit margin, Sadly, when it comes to the police service, whilst there is no profit margin to worry about, Chief Constables fret, with good cause, over the costs of running their force. They are encouraged to make savings by successive Governments, who in the same breath will demand greater efficiency and falling crime rates.

No wonder then that some Chief Constables have looked at the cost of providing injury pensions and have strayed into dangerous territory by enabling their HR and Occupational Health managers, along with the SMPs used by their force, to be ‘inventive’ with their application of the law governing the administration of injury pensions.

Elsewhere in this website, there are numerous examples of the sharp practices which have resulted from some Chief Constables forgetting entirely that their responsibility to the law precludes them from putting their worries over their shrinking budgets before their duties as managers of the police injury benefit scheme.

Put simply, police injury benefits should be managed with no thought to the financial effect of decisions made regarding a serving officer’s or injured retired officer’s medical condition. Decisions made by a SMP need to be made free of any pressure, whether overt or merely hinted at, to act in ways which are influenced by financial outcomes.

Some SMPs, however, 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 biase.

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 a 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 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, and 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.

We have heard much about the unpleasant and coercive practice whereby the SMP asks the disabled person to complete a “customer satisfaction” survey. The pensioner is told something along the lines of, ‘No, you can’t take it with you to complete and send it back. 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 around £250 an hour, that is as shady dealer Arthur Daley would say, ‘A nice little earner.’

We are frequently told of SMPs reports which bear little to no relationship to what was said and done during an examination or interview. In the most extreme examples an SMP has told the pensioner verbally during the examination/interview 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 a 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, or 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 so 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 in 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 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 HR/ 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.

The Shortcomings Of Certain SMPs

19 thoughts on “The Shortcomings Of Certain SMPs

  • 2020-03-12 at 11:03 am

    In nearly all other transactions we make in our lives, we have some choice. We can chose our dentist, our doctor, even the surgeon and the hospital if we need an operation. We can choose where we live, what school our children go to, where we buy our groceries, where we go on holiday, who we have as friends, what we watch on TV, which football team we support, which shirt or dress to wear, and so on. We are almost overwhelmed with endless variety of choices.

    If we don’t like the look of something, or someone, we take a sidestep and find an alternative.

    But when it comes to the police injury award scheme, it seems we have no choice whatever over the doctor who will decide the relevant medical questions.

    The Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations deny scheme members any choice – the police pension authority is free to select any doctor they want. Pensioners (and serving officers seeking an injury award) have no option but to submit themselves, and their financial future, to the woeful, corrupt, biased and just plain nasty doctors who are used in some force areas.

    Surely it is time to call a halt, and to protest loudly about the continued employment of doctors in whom there is no trust? Time to demand a choice. Time to insist that the doctor used is ‘duly qualified’ with current, wide experience and knowledge in the particular field of medicine which covers the duty injury? Time to insist that there is a choice of doctors.

  • 2020-03-11 at 8:58 pm

    It’s hard to see the bias process changing when it starts at the government & is filtered down. If you’re not aware of IODPA when you find yourself in the whirlwind of ill health retirement then you’re completely blind to the process and in my case unable to mentally process the basics.
    It’s like sitting in a dinghy with a warship firing at you….you never stand a chance

  • 2020-03-11 at 11:17 am

    Hits the nail on the head.

    It is all about money and I wonder how many would join if they knew how badly you are treated should you have the misfortune to be injured in the line of duty. I certainly would not knowing what I know now.

    • 2020-03-22 at 8:30 pm

      We face unprecedented times. The NHS is asking retired medics to come and hold the line.

      I wonder if Dr Cheng, Dr Vivian, Dr Adejero, Dr Broome will be utilising there extensive medical skills in this national emergency.

  • 2020-03-11 at 8:27 am

    SMP’s are no more than hired guns who sell their signatures to the highest bidder. Well I’ve got news for the bent force solicitors and HR heads, there’s a new sheriff in town and it’s called IODPA, and it’s coming after you, so you had better get ready.

  • 2020-03-10 at 11:04 pm

    Times must change, the integrity of SMP’s should not need to be questioned, it is only from the evidence of bias, disregarding specialist & trivialising the extent of effects on injured officers that brings the whole system into question, SMP’s should be impartial, honest and fair, they should not be influenced or in dialogue with any force they should be paid independently by a central fund rather than the force itself so they have no financial obligations to any side.
    SMP’s should have accountability for inaccurate reports that disregard facts and medical evidence so it is in their own interest to provide an accurate assessment and not one that helps a force reduce its financial obligations.
    The whole process is flawed, picking hypothetical job roles from vague ambitious advertising often missing vital information is not a fair way to calculate a persons capacity to earn with said disablement.
    Time to re look at everything with honest independent transparent eyes. The damage that’s done by the injustice of this process is not fair on already injured people.

  • 2020-03-10 at 9:36 pm

    The simple fact is that SMP’s are contracted and therefore in effect employed by Police forces. If they do not do as they are told then their contract will not be renewed. They are not in anyway independent and as such do not have the interest of their patient at heart.

  • 2020-03-10 at 1:09 pm

    Hopefully we will soon see a certain chubby cc have to account for his and his staffs actions in court over the next few months, I would pay good money to see that. It doesn’t matter if he thinks what he’s doing is justified or believes its good management skills he’s applying, he’ll know somewhere deep deep down that what he’s doing is morally wrong, I hope lots of eyes will be burning his neck. And where is the last smp he used?.. The one that didn’t make any decisions on a massive payroll for a while?… The other side of the planet apparently uncontactable…how convenient that he hired that smp. I really hope this goes all the way through the courts and the regulations regarding iod awards finally get set in stone once and for all.. And in a format cc s, smps and hr staff can read and understand, maybe ladybird children’s books could assist

  • 2020-03-10 at 10:52 am

    I have seen an email exchange between the SMP, Force doctor and head of finance discussing how they where going to reduce me, this was before I had even seen the SMP. How can the SMP be independent when they are advised and driven by the force they work for.

    The whole system is broken corrupt and unworkable. One force states they will review until the pensioner has died, other forces don’t review at all! And let’s not get into how much the SMP’s get paid because that is ridiculous and forces would save thousands of pounds by either doing awards and reviews within the bounds of the regulations. How ludicrous is it that when the SMP makes a wrong decision and it is appealed the SMP gets paid again to attend the appeal that was of their making?

    These SMP’s are making pensioners ill and worse and as far as I can see that is against all that DR’s stand for. Shame on those that have turn their back on their ethics and the hypocritical oath .

  • 2020-03-10 at 8:44 am

    I dread the day when i am put before an smp – someone passing judgement from a perspective sitting behind a desk. With the knowledge that i have and hear about these corrupted smp individuals
    When my family have lived through the years of hell of firstly my physical injuries ongoing pain and surgery, but moreso the mental torement i have lived with that has effected all aspects of my life and everyone around me.
    My anger and unreasoned responces to certain situations that has controlled my life and ways of living through avoidance, reaction overreaction violence and swinging moods and depression to name a few.
    I fear what i may do to someone sitting in judgement underplaying and misinterpreting me through their own safe world and an opinion based on twisting medical records or how they think i live my life.
    I hope the smp allows me to be accompanied as much for their own safety as much as my safety as i think under such an examination my severe overeaction to such surrounding may be more than verbal and have severe consequences.

    Even readiing and writing on this blog have me physicaly shaking, adrenelin pumping and my anger levels through the roof.

    Do smp and forces not see what they are playing with – men and women who have for years faced down dangerous angry and violent people. In some instances those damaged officers have become angry and maybe easily provoked into violenence by the altered mindset they have as a result of their own demons brought on by the things that happened to them whilst serving in policing.

    They bring upon themselves by their own hand that which they have underestimated.

  • 2020-03-09 at 5:25 pm

    SMPs are jeopardising their jobs, they should be impartial and should not be led by forces, just to reduce the pounds that are paid to IODP. They should listen and review the evidence, medical evidence, ***Do not get led by the force and do not sell your soles to the devils for monetary gain…

  • 2020-03-09 at 2:35 pm

    Or what about the SMP who actually said in a PMAB that he would sign anything which was put in front of him? Surely if therein contains dishonest statements that is perjury and said “physician,” as he likes to call himself should be eating porridge?

  • 2020-03-08 at 5:00 pm

    What is very obvious from these, and other posts is the system is broken.

    Corrupted SMP’s by corrupted solicitors and corrupted PMAB board members all trying to stop the IOD award system completely. SMP’s lying in reports of what was said, force solicitors overlooking criminal behaviour, PMAB board members rifling through our clothing whilst another board member distracted you. And all for a few pennies saved to the force budget. The Home Office attitude of we cant possibly look into individual cases, not because they can’t but they wont!!

    HR and force solicitors working together to ensure IOD’s medical notes end up in HR, only to be passed over to solicitors to “Paginate” before handing them over to the PMAB. Which law says HR and force solicitors are entitled to see very sensitive personal data? None that I know of. “Oh we just do it for admin purposes and to speed the process up” they say. “We hand them over to the SMP eventually” The SMP who has already been told what is required? Oh well, that’s alright then, 100% trust him/her – Not.

    Some of the SMP’s, force solicitors, HR professionals are so bent – they cant lie straight in bed!!
    I applaud those that are truly professional and can’t be bought off with pay rises intended to keep them on-board. You are the one’s who should be trusted to do things properly. The others should go and hang their heads in shame. (Northumbria and Staffordshire in particular)

    How about IOD’s turn round and say I will give you my full medical records from birth after HR and the force solicitors and the PMAB board give theirs over to my solicitor first. Then we can all have a rake round those records and see why most of them have a corrupt streak in them?

    We need the whole system to be reviewed by Judicial means with powers to bring charges of fraud and corruption against the offenders in HR, Legal, and PMAB board members. One day they will all be brought to book.

  • 2020-03-07 at 9:14 pm

    What, like the SMP who has a GP wife who specialises in women’s health and trains new GP’s, yet HE thinks it is acceptable to move a Stalker and domestic abuser into the victims office and that will not affect the victim? Really? This is supposed to be the Police, who are supposed to PROTECT victims of Domestic abuse. The SMP who thought it was the victims fault? Have we returned to the attitudes of the 1970’s? I hope if anything similar happens to either of his two daughters or his son and they go to the Police about it that they will be treated with more respect and decency than I was, namely not blamed and treated with contempt. As Lady Gaga said recently, watch out, “Karma Has Everybody’s Address” All those years I treated the public properly, why is it these “Physicians” as they like to call themselves think they can make up their own rules and that they are untouchable?

    • 2020-03-11 at 12:19 pm

      They are untouchable.
      They are protected by a bent criminal and twisted system created by themselves to protect themselves. Fact!

  • 2020-03-07 at 5:51 pm

    I signed up for a career. It ended abruptly. It was not my fault. People who are retired on medical grounds from injuries on duty are vulnerable. Relapse is common. No way could I go on to police premises now. The thought terrifies me. My reasoning for moving out to the rural to avoid sirens. The very thought of having a ‘review’ and losing what is my compensation for a career being cut short is sickening and I cannot believe that various Forces get away with it. These people were dedicated officers.

  • 2020-03-07 at 5:25 pm

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – said Martin Luther King.
    So many decades later and still they pedal injustice and frankly, inhumane treatment to their ‘trusted colleagues’. Can there be a greater injustice or a more hurtful way to degrade the people who once had your back?

  • 2020-03-07 at 3:21 pm

    A brilliant write up of the situation Police IODs face and have faced for decades!

    We know that Forces are short of money but to target injured on duty pensioners is immoral, malicious and vindictive. For so called “Doctors” to blatantly ignore hospital specialists’ medical reports and lie on their own medical forms is disgusting!

    I blame the Chief Constables and HR departments who guide these rogue SMPs in their actions!

    It is quite simply abhorrent!

  • 2020-03-07 at 2:17 pm

    There is no doubt whatsoever that the SMP and the IOD panel colluded with South Wales Police for several months leading up to my appeal and had drawn their conclusions and even the outcome of my physical and psychological examination long before they had even met me.
    When an individual has severe physical and psychological difficulties this can make things become far worse.
    Sadly there is no duty of care in these circumstances any more. It is all about the money and often to the detriment of the applicants wellbeing.

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