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GMC to continue appealing FTP decisions until legislation is changed

Exclusive The GMC is not intending to halt appeals against its own fitness-to-practise tribunal until the law is changed, Pulse has learned.

The doctor regulator's defiant stance comes as health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he will remove its right to appeal Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service (MPTS) rulings.

But GP defence organisations have warned that the legislative process required to enable the change – repealing section 40A of the 1983 Medical Act 1983 – could be lengthy.

In the meantime, the GMC has been successful in striking off yet another doctor via a High Court appeal, taking the total number to eight since it began bringing appeals just over one year ago, Pulse can reveal.

And the GMC is still pursuing three ongoing appeals against MPTS decisions which have yet to be heard in the High Court.

The regulator has regularly appealed against MPTS decisions since gaining the right to do so, all of which either sought to block a doctor from practising or other, stricter sanctions.

A GMC spokesperson said: 'Our appeals have been upheld in 16 out of 18 cases heard by the courts. We believe our actions have provided greater public safety and maintained public confidence in the profession through these rulings, all but one of which involved sexual misconduct or dishonesty.

‘We will continue to follow the law and to appeal in cases where the tribunal’s decision is insufficient to protect the public.’

Medical Protection Society medical director Rob Hendry said: 'The Government has accepted Sir Norman Williams’ conclusion that the GMC losing its right of appeal over decisions made by the MPTS would not be detrimental to the safeguards that are in place to protect patient safety. This is because the Professional Standards Authority has a near duplicate right of appeal.'

He said the MPS has 'urged the Government to set out a clear timeframe for change and to bring forward the legislation that will enable the removal of the GMC’s power to appeal as quickly as possible'.

But he added: 'In the meantime, we believe it would make a significant step towards re-building trust with the profession if the GMC were to cease appealing MPTS decisions while we await the relevant legislative changes.'

A BMA spokesperson said: 'The BMA has long held the belief that the GMC should not be able to appeal fitness-to-practise decisions, and so we were glad when the Williams Review into gross negligence manslaughter listened to our concerns and recommended that this right be withdrawn.

'We urge the Government to now move swiftly to implement the review’s recommendations, which the secretary of state for health and social care accepted in full, to prevent the GMC continuing this practice.'

Removing the GMC's ability to appeal MPTS rulings was one of a number of actions the Department of Health and Social Care said it would take following its 'rapid review' into medical gross negligence manslaughter launched after the controversial Bawa-Garba ruling in January.

But, in a move criticised by the GMC as well as the BMA, the DHSC stopped short of offering legal protection to stop courts requesting doctors' written reflections.

Mr Hunt has also said that GPs, alongside ambulance trusts, 'will be the next focus for reviewing deaths to help understand and tackle patient safety issues'.

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Readers' comments (17)

  • In my cohort of foundation doctors alone I know one F2 who got through the USMLE and is applying for an anaesthetic residency and another F2 who has a successfully applied for a job in New Zealand

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  • Any organisation that needs a reference to leave it is deeply flawed.

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    Just had the letter asking for my GMC fee
    So demoralized having
    no choice but to pay this..
    So much for bma's stance on
    it helps to keep the GMC accountable

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  • Council of Despair

    All for one ? | GP Partner/Principal03 Jul 2018 5:33pm

    hopefully, the appeal will look into these matters

    there are wider issues,

    - professionals being judged on technical matters with a lay jury
    - the 'expertise' of expert witnesses
    - the GMC defaulting to the decision made in criminal courts without thinking through the wider implications i.e. if you are always going to side on the decision made by the courts then why do we need the GMC at all? It then defaults to a rubber stamping mechanism of 'you were convicted in court, we don't need to see the evidence or balance the ramifications so we will automatically strike you off'

    Massey is paid 250k a year to lead - if he is just going to abdicate his duties he should go.

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  • Council of Despair

    I read an article somewhere where Terence Stephenson claimed that the GMC appealed an MPTS decision that was too harsh - does anyone know if there is such a case?

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  • Council of Despair

    this was the article

    Medscape UK:
    You were critical of the recent government announcement that the GMC would lose the right to appeal MPTS rulings. Why do you believe this was a wrong move?

    Sir Terence Stephenson:
    The Health Select Committee pressed the government for legislation change before we were granted the right to appeal decisions in December 2015. We also called for the change because patient safety is at the forefront of the GMC's work. Doctors have a right to appeal decisions. However, previously the GMC was powerless to challenge decisions when we thought they were too lenient, too severe, and could undermine the profession or put patients at risk.

    I'm just curious if the GMC has ever challenged a decision that they thought was too severe - if not then he should be held to account and explain his answer above.

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  • Council of despair
    Sadly, the Judge took the Expert Witness's viewpoint. EW further said that ' diagnosis of Gastroenteritis was negligent!!' in a child with V+D for over 12 hours!! What planet is the EW from?
    I actually believe the pathologist cannot tell the difference between hypotensive shock caused by ACEI as opposed to endo/exo/entero toxin shock from sepsis, I have asked a local pathologist and poor Jack may not have died at all but for ACEI.

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