Medical Defence Union launches new member peer support network

Doctors struggling to deal with a medico-legal investigation can now access the Medical Defence Union’s (MDU) new peer support network, according to an article published in the latest edition of the MDU journal.

Following a successful pilot last year, the network aims to support members who are involved in a GMC investigation or other process, such as a claim.

Members who are struggling are asked if they would like to be put in touch with another member who has been through a similar process and was supported by the MDU. The purpose of the contact is not to discuss the specifics of the case, but to offer the member an opportunity to ask questions and obtain the advice of someone who has first-hand experience of the process and can draw on their own experiences to provide personal support, guidance, reassurance and hope.

The MDU journal tells the profound story of how a member’s physical and mental health was impacted by a GMC investigation and how consequently he wanted to help others in a similar situation.

The member explains:

"I had no immediate friends or colleagues who had been through a GMC investigation, but of course you always read the horror stories and expect something ghastly to happen. My sleep was disturbed. My days were disturbed. I was probably a complete nightmare to live with.

"My MDU adviser was someone I could cling to and she proved to be an absolute rock. She reassured me that if I had a problem, they would deal with it and that I should try to focus on looking after myself. Being a doctor herself, my MDU adviser could see things from my perspective and was able to offer a kind of peer support.

"My first reaction when I heard about the peer support project was that I've been helped by the MDU and now I would like to give something back. When I was facing the stress of a fitness to practise investigation, this service would have been enormously helpful. It would have been wonderful to speak to somebody who had been in the same boat and who understood what I was feeling and why. Whether they need a one-off session or ongoing support, someone to talk to, or just someone to listen, I'm going to be here for them."

Dr Caroline Fryar, head of advisory services at the MDU commented:

"This member’s experience will, sadly, resonate with many of our members. We are only too aware of how incredibly stressful it is being subject to an investigation.

"We established the peer support network so that members who are facing an ongoing investigation can speak to a fellow member who has 'been in their shoes' and who can offer both practical and emotional support and guidance.

"So far both the peers and the members who have been involved have found the experience positive. If we're helping you with a medico-legal matter and you feel you'd benefit from accessing the peer support network, please speak to your medico-legal adviser."

This page was correct at publication on 30/11/2020. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.