Doctors Legal Updates

Healthcare – Medical Practitioner – Fitness to Practise – General Medical Council - GMC

 

The General Medical Council (“GMC”) is consulting with regard to a fundamental change to the method of disposal of certain fitness to practise cases.

The current fitness to practise procedures (generally contained in the Medical Act 1983 and the Fitness to Practise Rules 2004) advocate a “cautious approach” to cooperation with doctors which means most cases relating to a doctor’s fitness to practise are referred for a public hearing. Although certain arrangements can be made with individual doctors, for example, undertakings and voluntary erasure, where it is thought that a doctor’s fitness to practise may be impaired, the cases are referred for a hearing before a fitness to practise panel.

The GMC’s current regime is intended to be proportionate to the “special position” that doctors hold in society and its purpose is public protection, maintenance of confidence in the medical profession and fairness.

However, some people take the view that the current fitness to practise procedures are “overly punitive” by reason of the fact that most cases are sent to a public hearing. For example, allegations could be published about doctors, which my later be deemed unfounded. Furthermore, public hearings are costly and can take months to bring a case to hearing.

The main changes which are being proposed include:-

Allowing for the discussions with doctors about the nature of presenting concerns. Although there is limited scope for this (as mentioned above), it is proposed that the cooperation of doctors shall be sought where they are willing to accept the proposed sanctions.

  • Encouraging greater discussions with doctors to obtain the facts early with supporting evidence as opposed to the current process whereby some aspects of the cases only fully emerge at the hearings.

Cases where the doctors do not accept the GMC’s proposed sanctions or where there is a significant dispute about the evidence will still go to a public hearing.

Other changes include:-

  • Automatic erasure of a doctor upon certain serious convictions (with the chance for doctors to make written representations); and
  • Automatic suspension of a doctor who fails to cooperate with fitness to practise investigations.

You can view the full consultation document here.

If you require further information contact us at enquiries@rtcooperssolicitors.com

Visit http://www.rtcoopers.com/practice_corporatecommercial.php

http://www.rtcoopers.com/practice_pharmaceuticals.php for advice on commercial law.

© RT COOPERS, 2011. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.
 

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