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At the heart of general practice since 1960

High Court judge's ruling boosts GMC

GP self-regulation was given a boost last week after a judge backed a GMC ruling in the first case to be heard in the High Court.

The news came as fears were mounting that the High Court would overturn judgments or increase punishments in six GMC cases referred so far this year by the new super regulator, the Council for the Regulation of Healthcare Professionals (CRHP).

But the High Court judge refused to strike the GP off or send his case back to the GMC following an appeal by the CRHP.

Dr Olagbalekan Solanke was suspended for three months by the GMC last

December after he admitted having a sexual relationship with a woman he was treating for depression, falsifying his birth certificate and giving a false date of birth on his CV.

In the first case of its kind, the CRHP argued the sanction was 'unduly lenient' and should be reviewed to protect the interests of the public, as sexual misconduct and dishonesty could require removal from the register.

It recommended the court send the case back to the GMC's professional conduct committee – although it could have pushed for the court to overrule the PCC's decision without a further hearing.

The CRHP argued Dr Solanke, a GP in Croydon, was still a risk to the public if there were no recommendations for further action, a resumed hearing or conditions of practice.

But Mr Justice Leveson disagreed and said there was little to be gained by sending the case back as the patient might still refuse to give evidence, and Dr Solanke had confessed to falsifying his date of birth when the affair emerged.

He told the court: 'That seems to me to be of the very highest merit and reflects [favourably] on the doctor concerned. If it was sent back then there is absolutely no obligation on the doctor to give evidence [again]. He was open. Nobody could say he wasn't.'

But self-regulation remains under scrutiny, after the CRHP was last month given permission to refer Dr Giuseppe Ruscillo's case to the High Court even though the GP had been found not guilty of serious professional misconduct by the GMC. Dr Ruscillo's case will be heard later this year.

Paul Philip, director of fitness to practise at the GMC, said: 'The GMC remains respsonsible for medical regulation and we are strongly committed to professionally-led regulation.'

By Susan McNulty

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