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GMC set for 'double jeopardy' powers to overrule tribunal decisions

The GMC is set to gain powers to overrule decisions made by its independent tribunal on fitness-to-practise hearings if it feels they are too lenient, in a move the GPC says leaves GPs open to ‘double jeopardy’.

In the Government’s response to a report by the Health Select Committee on the GMC, it said it would introduce draft legislation for public consultation on giving the GMC the right to appeal decisions from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).

The report said: ‘We are working with the GMC towards draft legislation for consultation, which would make a number of reforms to the GMC’s fitness-to-practise proceedings, and this proposal would be included within those measures.’

‘This process has begun with a view to introduction of draft legislation as soon as possible, which will be proportionate, effective and scrutinised by Parliament.’

The Department of Health said it was also seeking technical advice from the Ministry of Justice on whether a right to a concurrent appeal was appropriate.

The MPTS was set up by the GMC in 2011 as part of the GMC - but operationally separate from its investigations and adjudication department, and accountable to Parliament. From June 2012 it has managed all fitness-to-practise and interim orders hearings.

The GMC has argued that having the right to appeal would enhance its independence from the decisions of the MPTS. But Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair, said it could lead to decisions on hearings being made as a result of political pressure.

He said: ‘Many doctors are concerned that they can be the victims of a witchhunt. They would want to see a fair process. There’s a worry pressure from politicians would lead to a “something must be done” attitude and the GMC therefore would come under pressure and inflict more severe sentences.’

Dr Nigel Watson, chair of the GPC’s commissioning and service development subcommittee and a GP in the New Forest, Hampshire, echoed his concerns.

He said: ‘That’s double jeopardy. You go through a process and the tribunal hears complex evidence and you’re judged on that decision. It seems a bit odd that someone can come in and try and make your sentence harsher. For a lot of people going through this process it’s traumatic, so I think it should be a complete process.’

‘Does it work the other way around? Some decisions seem lenient but some seem excessively harsh. If you’re going to have an appeals system it should be for excessively harsh and excessively lenient judgements for balance.’

‘If the GMC ends up making the decision over the appeal then that’s not on. If you’re going to have justice it should be a decision based on the evidence and not on anything else.’

Readers' comments (14)

  • Mark Struthers

    The 'independent' tribunal poses a potential threat to power and profit. The Department of Health & Big Pharma expect to retain their right to hang and flog any hapless doctor who upsets them. That's what this is all about ... and it stinks.

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  • Mark,
    Agree

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  • Mark Struthers

    Trust is so important. If only the GMC was an organisation that could be trusted.

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  • Mark Struthers

    Dr Andrew Wakefield and Professor John Walker-Smith were hung, drawn and quartered by the GMC, on behalf of their puppet masters. The profession just stood by and did nothing. Now doctors are reaping the whirlwind ... dumb-asses!

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  • Mark Struthers

    The GMC trial of the 'Royal Free Three' was a disgrace, and an utter disaster for doctors ... the High Court exoneration of Professor John Walker-Smith was powerful testimony to that. Niall Dickson did not do the honourable thing and fall on his sword ... and the profession did not get rid of him.

    WHY NOT?

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  • To think that we actually pay these f**k**s to hang us!

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  • Mark Struthers

    This short video depicts the pressure the GMC is subject to ... from powerful government apparatchiks.

    http://youtu.be/uhTYMoBTL6o

    The GMC MUST be fair to doctors and patients alike ... and it is vital that the GMC resists pressure from government and Big Pharma.

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  • Mark Struthers

    The GMC has become an instrument of persecution ...

    http://bit.ly/VpcBNd

    ... and the crushing of dissent. Doctors beware!

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  • Mark Struthers

    It is abundantly clear that the medical regulator does not behave fairly or reasonably. This knowledge is enormously corrosive. I envy those doctors who can afford to drop their registration.

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  • I retire in 4 weeks and the one thing I will enjoy the most is to tell the GMC to go stuff themselves!

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