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GP defence body calls for GMC to lose right to appeal fitness-to-practise rulings

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) has called for an ‘urgent review’ of the GMC’s right to appeal decisions made by its own tribunal.

This follows Pulse’s revelation that seven doctors have been struck off after GMC appealed Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service rulings since the first appeal case was heard in the High Court last May.

In its evidence to the Government’s review of gross negligence manslaughter charges against doctors, the MPS said it has ‘long been concerned’ about the GMC and the Professional Standards Authority ‘having the same right of appeal against an MPTS determination’.

The MPS report said by both regulators having this power, there is added ‘complexity and increasing costs to proceedings’ and it ‘prolongs the uncertainty for the doctor at the centre of the case’.

It said: ‘The GMC should lose its power to appeal MPTS decisions during any forthcoming programme of regulatory reform.’

It added that there is ‘an even greater sense of urgency to review this power’ in light of the Dr Bawa-Garba case, which saw the junior doctor struck off the medical register by the GMC, following a controversial High Court ruling.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt called for a ‘rapid review’ of the application of gross negligence manslaughter charges in medicine in February following the Dr Bawa-Garba case, which is scheduled to report back next month.

The MPS’s evidence to the review also said that there is ‘justifiable concern’ around the GMC’s proposal to automatically strike off doctors that have been charged with ‘serious crimes’.

However, the MPS highlighted that the judicial system serves ‘a different purpose to the MPTS’.

It said: ‘The MPTS’s role is to assess the doctor’s fitness to practise and if needed issue a sanction in order to protect the public and/or the reputation of the profession. 

‘We believe the MPTS rather than the court is best placed to make decision about a doctor’s fitness to practise.’

It comes as the GMC announced its review into gross negligence manslaughter charges against doctors – also coming in light of the Bawa-Garba case – will look at why there are fewer cases involving healthcare organisations compared with individuals.

The GMC gained the right to appeal MPTS decisions at the end of 2015, but the first case was only heard last May as the High Court wanted it heard by senior judges. Since then, the GMC has launched 23 appeals in total, although not all were in relation to having a doctor struck off.