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Ground-breaking court ruling paves way for doctors to take GMC to tribunal

A landmark ruling has paved the way for GPs to be able to take regulators to the Employment Tribunal.

A hearing at the Supreme Court earlier this month clarified that the Employment Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear Polish nephrologist Dr Eva Michalak’s discrimination case against the GMC.

The GMC had argued that the judicial reviewprocess already provides for an appeal in these matters.

Last week’s ruling means that Dr Michalak’s claim against the GMC will now be considered at an Employment Tribunal on a date which is yet to be confirmed.

Dr Michalak first took legal action after being laid off by Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in 2008 and won a sizeable payout from the trust in 2011.

The Employment Tribunal found that her dismissal had been unfair and contaminated by sex and race discrimination and victimisation. Dr Michalak received a compensation award and a public apology from the Trust.

Before the tribunal had issued its determination, the Trust had reported Dr Michalak to the GMC to consider whether she should continue to be registered as a medical practitioner.

The Trust later accepted that there had not been proper grounds to refer her and she remains registered as a medical practitioner. In the meantime, however, the GMC had begun fitness-to-practice proceedings against Dr Michalak.

She claims that the GMC discriminated against her in the way in which it pursued those proceedings, including a failure to investigate complaints she had made against other doctors employed by the Trust.

In August 2013, Dr Michalak brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal against the GMC, its chief executive and one of its investigation officers in relation to these complaints.

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘Whilst the GMC is disappointed that the Supreme Court has not upheld its appeal in this case, today’s decision does no more than clarify that the Employment Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear the case. The judgment does not address the question of whether there is any merit to the claim made by Dr Michalak.

‘We do not believe that there is merit to the claim and will defend the claim when it returns to the Employment Tribunal.

‘We do not consider that it would be appropriate to make any further comment at this stage whilst the case remains the subject of ongoing proceedings before the Employment Tribunal.’

The CQC declined to comment on the ruling and said that there were already a number of ways for providers raise challenges with CQC which include First-Tier tribunal and Judicial Review.

 

 

Readers' comments (22)

  • THIS IS HISTORIC, IT SHOWS THAT THE GMC ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW, NOBODY AND NO ORGANISATION IS.....

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  • "in the 21st century — no one can escape justice!" Judge Dredd 2000 AD, prog 3

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  • Vinci Ho

    Well , then we really like to know the eventual verdict from Employment Tribunal .

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  • Vinci Ho

    Will be interested in opinions from a legal point of view:
    (1) Obviously, there are more details than this article about this story . The important feature in the story was Dr M was a claimant against the Trust but then was turned into a defendant under GMC FTP proceedings because of the counter-action of the Trust.
    (2) This is a Supreme Court decision and hence , final. Employment tribunals are constituted and operate according to statutory rules issued by the Secretary of State(Justice Secretary).
    (3) The argument here appears to be: if a doctor is deemed not fit to practise under GMC , the trust , the employer , can exercise a dismissal. My legal question is whether Employment Tribunal has the legal authority to ultimately influence or even reverse GMC FTP proceedings , given the fact of complexity that ,in here , GMC is not the employer.

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  • All the best Dr Michalak.....who knows maybe your actions will stop the GMC handing out Gulag trials

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  • Why do the GMC bother to defend their actions? The trust admitted they'd done wrong so why don't the GMC just drop their act?

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  • This is just on paper.The GMC has full support of the Government.

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  • Mr Mephisto

    About time the Jeremys (cockney rhyming slang for Hunt) at the GMC got a taste of their own medicine.

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  • Gordon Gopher: my experience is that there is no logic to GMC processes and procedures. It is a supertanker on a course and cannot be turned. No matter what gets mowed down.

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  • re Copernicus.....Or to quote Lord Denning from the end of the last century: “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”.

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