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Doctors call on health secretary to stop GMC overturning MPTS decisions

A doctor-led lobbying group has urged the health secretary to review the GMC’s ability to appeal its own fitness-to-practise tribunal.

In a letter to Matt Hancock, the Doctor’s Association UK said the GMC’s right to appeal the MPTS has led to ‘significant unwelcome and unintended consequences’.

Earlier this year, the Court of Appeal overturned a GMC-led High Court decision to strike off Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, after the MPTS had called for her suspension following the death of Jack Adcock.

Following the case, the Government launched a ‘rapid review’ into the use of gross negligence manslaughter charges in medicine, concluding that the GMC should no longer have the right to appeal MPTS decisions.

However, Pulse revealed that the GMC is not intending to halt appeals against the MPTS until the law is changed.

The letter, which is co-signed by other lobbying groups including GP Survival and Doctors in Unite, said the case made doctors ‘feel that we too, could be pursued through the courts for errors made whilst simply trying our best’.

It said: ‘We, the undersigned, all agree that the GMC cannot be trusted to take a balanced and considered approach in the sanction of doctors who have made honest mistakes in the context of system failures.’

The letter added: ‘We are concerned that should the GMC’s action continue unchecked, that there will be a further breakdown in trust between the medical profession and its regulator, and the NHS will continue to move towards a culture of fear and blame, rather than one of learning.’

The association then urges Mr Hancock to:

  • Call upon the GMC to cease appealing MPTS verdicts
  • Confirm that the GMC’s right to appeal MPTS verdicts will be repealed, as per the recommendations of the Williams Review
  • Set out a timeframe for when and how this legislation will be changed

The letter comes after the appeals court told the GMC to show ‘restraint’ after it quashed another GMC-bid to sanction a doctor last month.

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘We’re listening to doctors and working hard to address concerns brought to light by Dr Bawa-Garba’s case through a programme of work to better support the profession.

‘We never take the decision to appeal a MPTS finding lightly. Earlier this year, the Williams review found that we had used our powers appropriately, with a high rate of success, and in so doing improved patient safety.’