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GPC deputy chair to pause involvement in MPTS tribunals following criticism

GPC deputy chair to pause involvement in MPTS tribunals following criticism

The deputy chair of the BMA’s GP Committee for England (GPCE) will ‘pause’ his involvement in MPTS tribunals following criticism over conflicts of interest. 

In an email to committee members last night, Dr Julius Parker responded to concerns that have been raised about ‘GPC officers participating in MPTS tribunals’ when they involve GPs.

Last month, Pulse revealed that several GPs felt there was a conflict of interest for the GPC with regards to a controversial MPTS tribunal in which its deputy chair Dr Parker was a medical member on the panel. 

The case involved Birmingham GP Dr Sarah Benn, who was suspended for five months due to multiple breaches of a court order for attending climate change protests, which had resulted in a custodial sentence. 

GPs expressed worries that Dr Parker’s position on the panel would deter the GPC from publicly criticising the decision, or discourage GPs in his LMC area to raise concerns about it.

Now, Dr Parker has written to GPCE members to address these concerns, stating that he has ‘discussed this issue’ with both the committee chair and the head of operations and development at the MPTS.

He said: ‘I have no wish for my role at the MPTS to be the cause of controversy or concern amongst GPC, LMC and GP colleagues. We all know this is a hugely important year for both GPC England and General Practice.

‘I have decided, in anticipation of any review of the appropriateness of BMA and/or GPC Officers/members serving as MPTS Tribunal Medical Members occurring, to pause any further empanelment at MPTS Tribunals. 

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‘I hope this will mean colleagues can review and debate this issue without any on-going concerns.’

Dr Parker’s letter stated that the specialism of the doctor serving as a ‘medical member’ on any MPTS tribunal is ‘unrelated to that of the doctor attending the tribunal’. 

This means that medical members are not allocated to tribunals based on their ‘own branch of practice’ or based on the ‘nature of the allegation that is being made’, according to Dr Parker. 

He also emphasised that the conflict of interest concerns are ‘separate to the concerns related to the GMC’s original decision to refer Dr Benn to the MPTS’.

Following the decision to suspend, the BMA wrote to the GMC demanding a review of the basis on which Dr Benn found herself in front of a tribunal. 

Last week, a GP who raised concerns over the potential conflict of interest for Dr Parker was removed from her LMC position.

Dr Clare Sieber was a committee member of West Sussex LMC, which is part of the wider Surrey and Sussex LMCs where Dr Parker is chief executive.

She said the timing of her removal – just days after raising concerns over how he handled conflicts of interests – seemed ‘a bit fishy’.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 7 May, 2024 1:42 pm

This is a very difficult dilemma, where there is clearly a potential for a conflict of interest, but also grounds to say that it is important to have representation from doctors, and in cases involving GPs, representation from LMCs and GPCs, both to the GMC, and also on MPTS panels, to ensure fairness and appropriate medical understanding within the decisions of those panels.
I am inclined to say we need to have more people like Julius Parker on MPTS panels, but also that there has to be a mechanism whereby they could step back if they felt their involvement may be unhelpful in either way.

Just Your Average Joe 7 May, 2024 8:22 pm

Poor decision from panel, sad LMC involved on the panel making such a decision.
Then even poorer decision to remove an LMC member who expressed concerns – whistle blowing on this issue – only to be suspiciously removed from her position, coincidently straight after raising the issue.

Sadly stinks.

However doctors to be involved in the panels is vital – just ones who remember what is is like to be a day to day working doctor please, not one lost in the Ivory towers.