The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has recently announced plans to give the Secretary of State the power to suspend a healthcare professional’s rights to NHS Pension benefits in cases where a criminal charge has been brought but a conviction has yet to be made.
Medical Protection has serious concerns about this proposal as it goes against the principles of natural justice which assumes that one is innocent until proven guilty, and will run the risk of doctors and their families experiencing an additional psychological and potentially economic strain on the already stressful investigation process.
Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at Medical Protection, said:
“Medical Protection has extensive experience of supporting healthcare professionals facing criminal charges, including in cases of gross negligence manslaughter and shares the concerns of the BMA which, among other stakeholders, also opposes this development.
“If this proposal goes ahead, it could mean that doctors facing unproven allegations would find that their pension rights were put at risk prior to any conviction being made.
“Doctors are increasingly working under pressure and are understandably concerned about the possible consequences for them when things go wrong. Doctors may face sanctions from their employer, reputational damage in the media and restrictions on their licence to practice. These new proposals will only add to the profession’s fear of being exposed to excessively punitive consequences if they make an unintentional error.
“I have written to the Minister to set out our concerns in the strongest terms. I hope the Government reconsiders its position and takes the view of Medical Protection and others when continuing with the development of this review.”
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The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”) is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support together with the right to request indemnity for complaints or claims arising from professional practice.
Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.