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GPs face 'double jeopardy' under new GMC power to appeal tribunal decisions

The GMC has been given a new power allowing it to challenge decisions made by the independent panel that presides over doctors’ fitness-to-practise (FTP) cases, which will increase the risk of GPs facing two trials for the same complaint.

Landmark changes to the Medical Act mean the GMC will now be able to appeal FTP decisions to the High Court of Justice in England and the devolved nations. 

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), the body which makes the independent FTP decisions, has also been placed on a statuary footing following the changes made to the law.

But the GPC has said that the GMC’s new powers ‘puts GPs at risk of double jeopardy.’ 

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey, said: ‘When GPs feel increasingly under pressure from an increasingly oppressive performance management and regulatory structure and rising complaints culture, this move by the GMC to put doctors at risk of double jeopardy will just further undermine their morale.’

However, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC added that the new law ‘strengthens the GMC’s role as a patient safety organisation.’

Mr Dickson said: ’The new right of appeal and the establishment of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service as a statutory body are huge strides in UK professional regulation. 

’This will help us to make sure doctors receive the support they require and patients receive high quality care. The new law underlines the separation of our investigations from the tribunal service and thereby strengthen our role as a patient safety organisation.’ 

It comes after Pulse reported that only one anonymous GMC complaint has led to a sanction imposed on a doctor in the past two years.

Readers' comments (20)

  • add it to the long-list of 'nails' in coffin.

    so if you are an 18 year old thinking of medicine as a career this is what you have to look forward too;

    1. massive competition to get into medical school
    2. once in medical school pressure to pass and zero support or sympathy if you fail but you will have a real debt.
    3. massive student debt - 100k plus
    4. if you graduate as a medic - continuing unrelenting academic pressure to get to GP/Consultant grade over 10 years whilst working long unsocial low paid hours.
    5. One mistake and you can be out even if there are no clinical consequences
    6. One complaint and you can be out and if whoever complains does not get satisfaction they can pursue you until they get you.
    7. unrelenting and increasing bureaucratic hoops to jump through - re-validation criteria, local criteria, CQC criteria and more
    8. constantly bashed by the state, media and public as being privileged, female, foreign, no good, greedy etc
    9. this has to continue until you are 70yrs of age. during this time the GMC has said to expect a few complaints and a few referrals to them and we know they won't stop till they get you.
    10. assuming you survive all of this you might get an average pension.

    the above is the best case scenario - i fully expect things to get worse. there is no way i would recommend a career in medicine now.

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  • Trouble is Hunt and the GMC have no understanding of market forces. The tories are always on about Market the bankers more...or else they will leave.
    But they don't understand....either treat doctors better or you will not have any (quality) doctors...guess it depends how much you value quality.

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  • So if the GMC dont get you the first time they can come after you again for the same complaint!!!


    thank goodness i left that hole formerly known as great britain and actually have a life now; what a vindictive vile vacuous place its become...... and thats without even beginning to mention the GMC

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  • I think the whole point of allowing the GMC to challenge the MPTS decisions is actually implemented in order to allow the MTPS to make faster and more compassionate decisions.

    MPTS will stop being the organisations of last instance and therefore will be allowed a greater margin for error, with GMC acting as a safeguard for most extreme cases.

    This makes sense in the context of English legal system and should actually be cautiously welcomed pending the review of cases where GMC will excercise the power to appeal.

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  • I am sorry I do not understand what GMC is short for?
    Is is

    Go Mad Collapse?
    Get Me Certified?
    I am sure the eds will help me out here???

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • Abdul QADRI

    one can sense the low morale & frustration among the vast majority of GPs. They want to remain anonymous , Why ? They simply don't trust the Current Thinktank of NHS. All GMC is bothered about is so called Patient Safety. In the media , GMC is all the time attacking GPs Patient management skills that itself causes lack of trust between the Patients and the Doctor. I am afraid whole system is in real mess ever since CQC has come into existence. Sadly Carer as a GP is going to be the lowest among future Propective Young students.

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  • Young doctors should very very seriously consider emigrating. You have skills that have an international demand and that are no longer adequately valued here. That is the simple truth of the matter. I suspect however what is happening here is the way the world is going with deprofessionalisation and informed consumers. There is always a lag so find a corner of the globe that still respects doctors and allows them enough autonomy not to be treated as automatons.

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  • it is clearly time to stop the farce of GPs paying to be persecuted by the GMC.

    As he clearly says above - it is all about patient safety - so they should be paying for the GMC costs via taxes and time for the DOH to take over both the costs of the GMC and Medical defence.

    Both are unsustainable, unaffordable taxes on working as a doctor in the UK, in an era where the DOH is helping undermine and attack the profession encouraging the public to make vexatious complaints for personal gain.

    Otherwise redress the balance - where unless serious harm and clear misbehaviour assessed by an independent panel neither complaint nor financial fishing for compensation can move forward.

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  • I just wondered whether any one knows whether private medical care is one of the perks given to MPs?
    Also does this perk continue after they leave office? Or can they all just afford it anyway??? It would be interesting to know the percentage of mps who do have private as this could explain why they are not afraid to find all possible ways to hammer doctors, via GMC, CQC, its leaders Sir Bruce Spoutalot etc....resulting in the collapse of the NHS.

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  • Some suggestions to sum up the situation we find ourselves in:
    - Got My Certificate-of-good-standing
    - Grevious Medical Cull
    - Gong Making Club
    - Gonna Make Cintilions
    - Gave My (las) Croak
    - Gargantuans Make Cash

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