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Independents' Day

​GMC referrals to medical tribunal service up by 40%

Referrals by the GMC to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) have increased by 40%, despite ‘no significant increase’ in complaints made to the GMC over the past year. 

The number of referrals to tribunals from case examiner decisions in 2018 was 280, up from 200 the year before.

The GMC said that thresholds for referrals had not changed and that this increase was likely due to a normal fluctuation in cases.

The total number of fitness-to-practise enquiries increased by 0.3% in 2018 with 8,573 enquiries compared to 8,546 in 2017.

It follows the news that the GMC intends to spend the ‘bulk’ of its resources supporting doctors and to try and reduce the number of investigations it undertakes.

Anthony Omo, general counsel and director of fitness to practise at the GMC, said: ‘Over the course of 2019 there has been no significant increase in complaints or referrals to the GMC.

‘However, we have seen an increase in the number of full investigations compared to the same period last year. We have robust investigation processes and closely monitor all cases which come to us to ensure we progress them as quickly as possible.’

In the GMC’s September council meeting, the council noted that: ‘There were increased volumes of caseloads within fitness to practise with a consequent increase in the number of referrals to the MPTS.

‘The increase in referrals reflected an increase in the most serious referrals from employers, as there had also been a drop in the number of less serious cases, that is those which result in doctors being issued with advice or warnings.’

The GMC also said it had promoted 7% more enquiries to full investigation at initial triage in 2018 (1,402) than the year before (1,306), which was likely due to an uplift in cases raising serious concerns.

A spokesperson for the GMC noted that it had improved its lower-level filtering to make sure investigations are only carried out in serious cases.

Since this system of provisional enquiries was introduced in 2014, just under 30% of these have proceeded to full investigations.

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘Given the profound and distressing effect that fitness-to-practise investigations have on doctors, and the important role this process plays in protecting patients, it is crucial that case examiner referrals are only made when cases meet the correct criteria and are fully justified.’

In April, the GMC announced changes to how it handles one-off mistakes by GPs and other doctors, after a pilot found that full investigations were not needed in 65% of cases.

Readers' comments (10)

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  • To be fair I do think they are being much more balanced now and more aware of how horribly wrong things went in their over zealous past.
    The crucial point is that they have "improved" their lower level filtering which was where they lost all reason before.

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  • The fluctuation in 200 of two standard errors is 2x square root of 200 and so is about 28. This 28 is about p of 0.05. So the actual fluctuation of 80 looks significant. However we don’t have the actual average over the last few years. If the average was 240 then the 2 std error fluctuation is about 32 which makes the 280 just significant.

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  • Why has the situation arisen where the provider of medical services (the government) also acts as the judge jury and executioner in cases of potential medical negligence? This is surely a massive conflict of interest because it is in the governments interest as the provider and administrator of medical services to be far more punitive and cut throat than a free court that looked at all the available evidence and circumstances would otherwise be. Who are these quango disciplinary panels composed of and why , at least in the case of nhs England, are they composed of mostly managers and lay members without any medical background whatsoever? It should be the law that decides in cases of medical negligence and not a government agency masquerading as the law

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  • Took Early Retirement

    The truth is more likely to be that they have to find more witches to pursue in order to justify their existence.

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  • Vinci Ho

    I would choose not be distracted by our hitherto sentiments towards GMC(CQC , NICE as well ) :
    (1) Given GMC some benefits of doubt , the phenomenon observed could be subjected to ‘normal fluctuation in cases’ . On the balance , I had a bit more confidence to MPTS than GMC actual . This is obviously derived from the story of Dr BG . Hence , more referrals to MPTS , at least , is better than more draconian investigations by GMC .
    (2) Problem is trust ; trust comes from track record before credibility can be established. The credibility and reputation of GMC , at least in the eyes of our medical colleagues, was seriously impaired and compromised. How is it to repair this big gap between itself and us is a task not to be underestimated any more . If GMC remains incredulous and intransigent as far as this is concerned, it will put our medical profession and hence , the whole health service in harm’s way . The superhero complex of GMC to protect the public as their first duty needs a lot of introspection and soul-searching .
    (3) As I was taught by the readings in Analects:
    The hierarchy or establishment would not stand if people’s trust in it no longer exists , no matter how ‘noble’ it tries to be . (民無信不立)

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  • So much for GMC reflection, trying to get more doctors in trouble. The whole system needs a revamp and limit it to just medical issues to stop the Empire building and intrusion into doctor's private lives.

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  • So around 20% of gps are subject to fitness to practise enquiries per year with about 5% ie a quarter proceeding to full investigation and around 1% or a quarter of those going to the MPTS.

    And GPs are retiring in droves.

    Surely even the GMC can work out that there might be a connection?
    So what do they do? Increase the number of investigations. !
    Who is next for the guillotine?

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  • We fund an organisation who's entire raison d'etre is to attack us whenever and wherever possible. We have no say over it, and no control over it, in any way. No taxation without representation... I think that was a slogan in a far away land, at one point.

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