In this article, we take a look at the practice of Dr William Cheng in seeking feedback on his performance. Dr Cheng acts in the role of Selected Medical Practitioner (‘SMP’) for a number of police pension forces. He makes decisions affecting the pension entitlements of serving and retired police officers.
We are all aware of the concept of feedback. It seems that almost every time you buy something these days, the seller seeks to get you to rate their product and/or service.
Buy a new widget to fix that broken whatsit and no sooner has it been delivered than you get a request for feedback from the widget seller and, most likely, from the delivery firm as well. ‘How did we do?’ they cry!
It’s easy to see what they get out of your cooperation, feedback is valuable. It helps them improve their products and services. Positive feedback is welcome, but negative feedback is undoubtedly the most useful because it highlights failures and indicates areas which would benefit from improvement.
With that in mind, we have become aware that the ubiquitous Dr William Chung Wing Cheng, GMC registration number 1631726, has been presenting a feedback form to serving and former officers he has medically examined/interviewed with a view, in our opinion, to generating only positive feedback.
We reproduce it here.
Let’s remind ourselves that Dr Cheng is not contracted by the person he medically examines/interviews. That person is not his customer nor his client. He is paid by the police force and we believe that it should be the force which monitors and evaluates his performance. If feedback forms need to be handed out, they should come from the force but only following the conclusion of any decision-making process.
So, just what is the purpose behind the force giving either tacit or direct approval to Dr Cheng to hand out feedback forms?
There is an enormous level of unease felt by the officers and former officers he medically examines and interviews in respect of their pension entitlements. For every individual who has had the courage and ability to complain about him, there are many more who have good grounds to complain but do not.
As to why individuals do not complain, there are numerous factors. An analysis of them all would divert from the focus of this article.
Dr Cheng has taken it upon himself to attempt to generate some feedback.
Could it be the case that his feedback forms are there only so Dr Cheng and his paymasters can wave them and say, ‘Look, everyone loves this guy’? As you would expect, nobody would ever write anything derogatory when their whole future rests in his hands and a decision must be made.
We hear that Dr Cheng is in the habit of producing this feedback form toward the end of the session with individuals and making it clear that the form is completed and handed back to him before the individual leaves the room. Understandably, some would see this as undue influence that the SMP might not write a favourable report without first being rewarded with positive feedback, or as applying pressure on the individual to write only positive comments.
It could be that Dr Cheng is in need of some positive comments. It is a matter of public record that Dr Cheng had 28.3% of his regulatory decisions overturned by way of appeals to police medical appeal boards, over a five year period.
It has to be remembered that Dr Cheng, for a great part of his duties is dealing with vulnerable and damaged individuals – officers who are facing the certainty of premature retirement due to illness of injury and disabled, often traumatised, former officers whose continuing level of injury pension depends on his decisions. It does not take anything more than common sense to know that unwell individuals might think that not completing Dr Cheng’s form and giving him a good review might negatively affect his decisions.
Our advice to any officer or former officer is to take Dr Cheng’s form and stuff it – in your pocket. Fill it out later, or not, as you think fit, and send it, or not, to the police pension authority, not to Dr Cheng. Bear in mind though that by completing Dr Cheng’s form positively you would be potentially writing off the chances of any future complaint being successful.
If you genuinely receive a fair and professional service from Dr Cheng, we have no problem with giving positive feedback. What we object to is a form being presented to vulnerable people immediately after a consultation, and before the quality of the final report is known.