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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'.

Related images

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Readers' comments (17)

  • Evidently they do not conduct reflective practice,hypocritical mmmm!

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  • So much for reflection even when they know the decision. I wonder how they will look at doctors who does exactly the same as them. Double standards?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Let’s be honest to ourselves .
    If it was not this case of Dr BG and our collective but united voice on this injustice, GMC’s bigotry of remaining as people’s protector , with a superhero complex , will not make any inch of changes .
    The war between MPTS and GMC , a power struggle ,and will go on politically . The hawkish element in this institution, like many establishments, will refuse to show remorse towards those colleagues who were harmed or even lost their lives due to previous FTP proceedings ....

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  • GMC Trumpism! The arrogant, bullying and blatant disregard for everyone elses' opinion, including that of the Executive and Judiciary, let alone almost the entire profession might just as well come from the White House. If the GMC feel that the tribunals that they appoint in the first place get it wrong, then it is up to GMC to educate them as to their expected performance. The GMC owe the public, profession and their tribunal members a duty of care. Evidently the GMC is failing in its duty of care in this respect. Some unfortunate doctors are suffering considerable damage as a result. Grounds for a case in tort?

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  • AlanAlmond

    The GMC is a confused organization. It routinely appeals the outcome of it’s own internal processes and when it’s suggesed they should stop they give two fingers and carry on regardless.

    When I look around the main bodies involved in the structure and regulation of general practice, - the GMC, the RCGP and the BMA, all I see is confusion and lack of clarity over their role, what they do, and how they do it. They all want to be all things to all people and they all fail miserably as a result in a soup of intellectual mess and obfuscation.

    Monkies.

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  • Predictable but still depressing.
    Let's see if the Appeal Court can come to a just decision on the Dr Bawa Garba case on 25th of this month. If it does, then the GMC will have openly isolated itself born legally and politically.
    I hold my breath.

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  • both legally and .....predictive text etc

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  • The GMC was following the conviction.
    The conviction was based on the fact [ among other equally bad statements] that the expert witness said ' DR BG ignored ' obvious deterioration in Jack's condition'.
    BUT, Jack actually improved
    1] pH O/A 1045 = 7.08 [ moribund]
    2]pH at 12 md = 7.24 [ laughing, drinking juice]
    3] so active at 1500, the nurse stopped observations
    4] Bouncing about at 1630
    5] Improved so much and so well at 1845, transferred from CAU to ward 28/29, by another clinician [ unknown !! in a manslaughter case]
    6] ACEI given at 1900
    7] Collapse and died at 1945
    Yet, in spite of this complete improvement the EW said Jack deteriorated. Furthermore he said that Jack was past the point of no return by 1700, even though he was bouncing about!!
    And to cap it all, he says he has NO EVIDENCE after 1430 !!!
    This is grotesque evidence, under oath !!
    If I were Dr BG, I would be reporting to GMC.

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  • You do realise this is going to lead to unprecedented anxiety levels amongst hospital consultants, creating a spike in defensive medicine practice (the likes this country has never seen before!). As a result training doctors will become demoralised and will eventually do one of two things: either quit medicine or leave the country and practice medicine where doctors are not working in pressure-cooker like clinical environments.

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  • Like me :)

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