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The waiting game

GMC gets new right to appeal ‘lenient’ fitness-to-practise decisions

The GMC has been given a new right to appeal against fitness-to-practise tribunal decisions that it deems are too ‘lenient’ and ‘do not protect the public’.

Following Government approval, the regulator will be able to lodge appeals against rulings made by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), the independent body that now hears FTP cases, in the High Court.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the ‘major reform’, planned to go live from December this year, will make the regulator’s complaints process quicker as it will be able to ‘streamline’ how cases are managed.

He said: ‘The new right of appeal and the establishment of the MPTS as a statutory body are major reforms in UK professional regulation. They will reinforce our separation from the tribunal service and our role as a patient safety organisation which brings the most serious cases to the tribunal service for adjudication.

‘These changes will also help us streamline our investigations, reduce the time it takes to deal with complaints and make our procedures faster, fairer and more efficient.’

MPTS chair David Pearl said: ’The changes we are proposing will strengthen our pre-hearing case management, meaning less time is lost in hearings to legal argument.

‘This is the next step in creating a modern and efficient tribunal service for the medical profession, operationally separate from the GMC’s role in investigating complaints.’

Other changes being planned include giving the MPTS power to award costs against the GMC or the doctor if either has not been cooperative and has behaved unreasonably.

The GMC’s FTP process has come under much scrutiny recently, with a new study concluding it ‘may do more harm than good’ due to the negative effect it has on doctors’ mental health and overtreatment of patients.

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Readers' comments (16)

  • Vinci Ho

    Come on guys , send in your comments, as many as possible .
    Anonymous or not , welcome

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  • some general points ;

    1. doctors are already exposed to multiple jeopardy - see below for a definition from the mdu.

    2. All General Medical Council (GMC) cases will (from 11 June 2012) be adjudicated upon by the independent tribunal known as the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).

    3. this new ruling means that in effect 'they will get you somehow'. as even if you are cleared that decision can be challenged 'in order to protect the public'.

    4. i vaguely remember an article mentioning the probability of getting referred to the GMC. Given that we are expected to work for longer - a 40 year career instead of a 30 year one and given our productivity will decrease as we get older - it is highly likely that most GPs at some point are going to get referred.

    4. generally we are guilty until proven innocent and have the odds against us.

    in conclusion medicine is now too risky as a career. the amount of effort (intellectually, emotionally, and financially) one has to put in isn't balanced by the 'rewards' of the job. Their are lots more worthwhile careers. I've advised my children - just don't do it and would advise others the same.

    what is particularly sad is that many doctors agree with the GMC approach and recently Scottish GPs had an opportunity to send a message to the GMC but didn't. I think there are going to be an awful lot more suicides before the GMC changes.

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  • 28 doctors committed suicide whilst under investigation by the GMC and the GMC got away with it, scot-free. They are now in an excellent position to turn up the heat.

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  • "Other changes being planned include giving the MPTS power to award costs against the GMC or the doctor if either has not been cooperative and has behaved unreasonably"

    Who defines "not been cooperative?" - I sense a mission creep here. Previously the GMC has introduced the notion of plea bargaining - am I being too cynical when I suggest that seeking to defend yourself against FTP allegations instead of negotiating a lesser sanction might be regarded as being uncooperative?

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  • Came across this news article which gives another unpleasant insight into the workings of this organisation.
    Well worth a read.

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  • My advice to young G P's after nearly 40 years in the job is a) Read Anonymous @ 7.49 am closely then b) Follow the advice of Anonymous @ 10.14 am TO THE LETTER.

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  • I was Chatting to a locum the other day . his brother is a Barrister . His advice was record Everything , refer everything !! I had a patient refer me to the GMC via an on line process because I had failed to diagnose dehydration in his 93 year old Demented mother ! I had done a capacity test on her , and she knew he was after her money . As I found she did still have some capacity he decided to complain
    I had known this woman for 20 odd years , always visited when asked and done what was right for her . His complaint triggered a fitness to practice which dragged on for a year .I became depressed , saw every patient as a possible litigator and it was responsible in part for me deciding to take early retirement .the Case was thrown out after a lengthy process not helped by the local performers group sending Historical cases which had been settled with no further actions /concerns to the GMC .I eventually got a Short E Mail saying no case to answer .had it not been for the fantastic support from my Indemnity provider and their Lawyer , well , I can see why 28 Doctors Kill themselves while under investigation . Talking with the Lawyer there is apparently a 1 in 2 Chance in your lifetime of a referral to the GMC for fitness to practice .It is so easy to start the process , and that process is the most stressful experience I have ever been through in over 30 years of Medicine . So record everything and refer everything !! Good luck to you all !!

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner | 25 March 2015 10:14am


    sadly we can't do this as ;

    1. it's not good medical practice
    2. do too many referrals and get refereed by your employer to the GMC as you are not providing good medical care.
    3. prescribe too many pills including antibiotics and be prepared to have NICE, NHSE, employer after you.
    4. basically do anything that affects cost or that goes against the latest political fad and someone after you.

    we are between a rock and a hard place but thankfully the youngsters are getting some sense and leaving. youngsters please do your homework otherwise you are going to end up stressed and bitter like us lot !

    it is so sad that doctors of all types are no longer deemed worthwhile in a 'developed' country such as the UK. Thankfully we are still respected in the rest of the world and that is where the future lies - i.e. the global market. As countries such as China, India, Brazil etc get richer the first thing they want is good quality healthcare and because the UK system is one of the toughest to work in - UK doctors are sought after so think global and you will be ok but sadly General Practice and I fear medicine in general is over in the UK.

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  • GMC could do with getting their own house in order and making their systems fairer and more transparent before they start pursuing cases that have already been heard.
    More I hear about the GMC, the more dirty it feels. They're the regulator for goodness sake, their behaviour should be above reproach and it really isn't

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