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GMC backs fitness to practise change

The GMC has backed a Law Commission proposal that could potentially widen the evidence base for fitness to practise allegations against GPs.

The Law Commission wants the new legal framework to `remove the concept of an allegation entirely', instead giving regulators `broad powers to deal with all information and complaints in such manner as they consider just'.

In its response to a consultation on the plans, which will inform draft legislation to be drawn up by the Commission by early 2014, the GMC said it supported this stance in relation to fitness to practise cases.

The BMA's response to the consultation warned that removal of the concept of an allegation `could be seen to imply that the regulator would not simply receive complaints against individual practitioners, but in fact would have to go out actively seeking information that might suggest misconduct from all the sources of information that are freely available, e.g. online social media.'

However, the GMC told Pulse it did not envisage that removing allegation categories would create any requirement to gather information in new ways.

A spokesperson said: `We would still have to assess whether there was a realistic prospect of proving that a doctor's fitness to practise was impaired in order to take a case forward.'

The GMC said it only opened an investigation when `serious concerns' were raised, and said it had the power to close ‘vexatious' complaints at initial assessment stage.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chair of the GPC, said: `We want evidence to be gathered in a way that is challengeable and we have always said so.'

The GMC endorsed the BMA's view that time limits for investigations should be in force.

An initial report on the plans collating stakeholder responses is expected at the end of 2012.