The GMC has been given a new right to appeal against fitness-to-practise tribunal decisions that it deems are too ‘lenient’ and ‘do not protect the public’.
Following Government approval, the regulator will be able to lodge appeals against rulings made by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), the independent body that now hears FTP cases, in the High Court.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the ‘major reform’, planned to go live from December this year, will make the regulator’s complaints process quicker as it will be able to ‘streamline’ how cases are managed.
He said: ‘The new right of appeal and the establishment of the MPTS as a statutory body are major reforms in UK professional regulation. They will reinforce our separation from the tribunal service and our role as a patient safety organisation which brings the most serious cases to the tribunal service for adjudication.
‘These changes will also help us streamline our investigations, reduce the time it takes to deal with complaints and make our procedures faster, fairer and more efficient.’
MPTS chair David Pearl said: ’The changes we are proposing will strengthen our pre-hearing case management, meaning less time is lost in hearings to legal argument.
‘This is the next step in creating a modern and efficient tribunal service for the medical profession, operationally separate from the GMC’s role in investigating complaints.’
Other changes being planned include giving the MPTS power to award costs against the GMC or the doctor if either has not been cooperative and has behaved unreasonably.
The GMC’s FTP process has come under much scrutiny recently, with a new study concluding it ‘may do more harm than good’ due to the negative effect it has on doctors’ mental health and overtreatment of patients.