Maastricht professor loses training authority

Maastricht professor loses training authority

UM hires extern bureau to investigate

21-09-2022 · News

MAASTRICHT. UM professor of Psychiatry Machteld Marcelis has lost her recognition as a trainer. She recently came under fire after complaints from doctors in training. Moreover, the training to become a psychiatrist at the GGZ institute in question, in Eindhoven, will be closed down. That is what the Registration Committee of Medical Specialists has decided.

Head trainer Marcelis recently became topic of discussion after fourteen (former) doctors in training had complained about an ‘unsafe learning climate’. This occurred at the GGZ institute in Eindhoven (GGzE) and at the UM. 

On the basis of an emergency visitation, the Registration Committee of Medical Specialists, (Registratiecommissie Geneeskundig Specialisten, RGS) decided to revoke Marcelis’s training authority and that of her substitute. This means that both may no longer work as trainers at GGzE. In addition, RGS is discontinuing the training programme to become a psychiatrist in Eindhoven. 

The decision by RGS is not definite yet. An ‘outlook discussion’ will take place on 29 September, in which trainers at the institute will be given an opportunity to reply.  

The decision by RGS has far-reaching consequences for GGzE. Closure of the training programme means that the 25 doctors in training will have to leave per 1 January 2023. The doctors are not just there to learn, but they also treat patients, supervised by psychiatrists.

In psychiatric circles, a completely different view on the affair is in circulation, which former UM professor of psychiatry and international celebrity Jim van Os (now Utrecht University) outlined in Observant last week. After talks with doctors in training and trainers, Van Os concluded that Marcelis was the victim of a revenge campaign by one of the doctors in training. Apparently, the man recruited colleagues to sign an anonymous letter of complaint about an ‘unsafe learning climate’.

Van Os was not pleased with RGS’ decision. “No attention was paid in the report to the reasons for the letter of complaint. Besides, if a course has been doing well during visitations for years, you have to make it credible where that sudden decline has come from. Not a word about that.” 

What exactly is meant by an ‘unsafe learning climate’ remains unclear. Van Os: “It is so vague, you can’t do anything with it. The consequences of the decision by RGS are that all trainers in the Netherlands now have reason to feel unsafe.” 

It is difficult to explain, because it is so personal, says Noud Bex, spokesperson for GGzE. Although, according to him, GGzE has changed a few organisational matters for the better. “Previously, the head trainer was also chairperson of the Central Training Committee. It gave the impression that one and the same person trains the doctors in training and also deals with any complaints by the same doctors in training. That is not desirable. That is why we recently hired an independent external confidential advisor.” 

The confidential advisor is investigating this case at the request of GGzE. The findings will be made known before 29 September.

An investigation is also ongoing at the UM. After the first investigations by the ombuds official, the Executive Board has hired an external bureau, says spokesperson Koen Augustijn. The bureau, Bing, specialising in integrity matters, will interview persons who have worked together with Marcelis in the past few years.