But, in the world of bullying employers, their relative ignorance in some areas is, unfortunately, used all the time to shore up the bullying. And because they do, in our society, have a magic red velvet cloak of status, they are believed without demur. This happens most in their sometimes putatively authoritative denial of a diagnosis of any kind of mental health problem and if challenged: “Are you questioning my clinical judgement” when in fact their clinical judgement is not worth an Israeli’s chance in Iran.
It happens though - a GP’s judgement is taken as gospel in Courts and Case Conferences for instance, where people’s lives can be wrecked on the say so of these elevated experts with their fragmented knowledge. As an ex Approved Social Worker I’ll cite the many examples of where a GP approved under section 12 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (after qualifying for this accolade via a laughable approval process) can take away a person’s liberty by merely signing a form (the only way of doing this in the UK without going through the judicial process and Court) and consign them to incarceration in a psychiatric hospital. And I’ve known GPs who have tried to do this without even examining the person - in too much of a hurry because they’re on their way for a game of golf - that’s not a tall story or an exaggeration. In those cases you can bet your life I refused to make the application to complete the “section.”
So what is going to be the situation when the Mental Health Act 2007 is fully implemented next Autumn? For that Act abolished the Approved Social Worker who has been one step removed from the medical powers and therefore a safeguard against wrongful incarceration by the doctors (believe me mate, it happens). Will the new role of Mental Health Professional, replacing the ASW be as ready to challenge those powerfully imperfect medical decisions if, for instance, the MHP is a nurse from the local psychiatric hospital? There are innumerable subtle ways of an employer threatening an employees career if they don’t comply.
Now there is another worry about the up to date knowledge of GPs. A person disabled within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act has rights and protections under that Act - including disabled employees. I recently had to get a written statement from a GP about the health condition of a person I was representing in disciplinary proceedings. Unfortunately, that GP added at the foot of his letter that he didn’t consider the person to be disabled within the Act when patently he has no idea of the changes brought in by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. That can obviously be challenged but he’s put his magic words on paper already and, notwithstanding his ignorance, his words will be gospel to those who want them to be gospel. Dangerous this is.