I have noted with interest that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has expressed a desire to look into the possibility of establishing a Medical Complaints Council in Trinidad and Tobago similar to the Medical Complaints Council in England. I have been reliably informed there is no such entity as a Medical Complaints Council in England.
The Attorney General, at the same time, also referred to a no-fault-based-compensation, which also does not exist in England. However, that is a separate issue.
In the United Kingdom, there are various routes by which complaints can be made against doctors. The main route is through the General Medical Council (www.gmc-uk.org). The GMC is the body responsible for keeping up-to-date registers of qualified doctors. Its legal purpose, as stated on its website, is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public. It expressly states its job is to protect patients and not the medical fraternity. It receives complaints and holds tribunals when deemed necessary.
Decisions of GMC hearings are published on the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service website, mpts-uk.org/decisions/
fitness_to_practise_decisions.asp. Such is the degree of transparency. For example, in March 2014 alone, it has posted 36 documents with the charges laid against named doctors with full tribunal details.
It makes interesting reading.
Our equivalent to the GMC is the Council of the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago (MBTT), which, like the GMC in England, is made up of medical and lay members. Although the MBTT website (www.mbtt.org) is not as elegant as the GMC website, MBTT complaint forms can be downloaded for submission.
Like the GMC in England, the Council of the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago also has the power to hold tribunals and to suspend doctors from practising and, in severe cases, it can remove doctors from the registry.
There are many small countries with medical councils which are capable of disciplining their physicians. For example Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados and even further afield Mauritius, which has a similar population to Trinidad and Tobago. Its council is composed of 14 medical practitioners and eight lay people.
The Attorney General’s wish to establish a parallel organisation therefore begs the question as to why the Council of the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago is not viewed as the go-to organisation for medical complaints. There are many who say the main problem is the membership in the council.
We do not need to reinvent the wheel, but we do need to fix and strengthen what is broken.
Dr Maria Bartholomew