By Lilian Anekwe
The GMC has launched an investigation into a sharp increase in serious fitness to practise cases after referrals rose by nearly a third in the last year.
The surge in investigations has left the GMC struggling to meet its target to resolve investigations within six months.
Stream 1 fitness to practise referrals – the most serious brought before the GMC – are 'significantly higher compared with 2010', the latest GMC Council report notes. The number of cases rose 31%, from 310 in January and February 2010 to 407 in January and February 2011.
There has also been a 17% rise in ‘enquiries' from other healthcare professionals resulting in fitness to practise referrals.
'In both January and February 2011 we missed the service target to conclude or refer 90% of cases at the investigation stage within six months,' the report says.
The regulator has commissioned research to investigate the rise in referrals, with results due later this year.
Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive, said: 'The trend we and other healthcare regulators have seen in recent years is for an increasing number of referrals from employers and other public bodies.'
'At the moment the reasons for this increase are not entirely clear, but we hope research will shed some light.'
This week the GMC launched a new campaign to recruit new medical and non-medical panellists to sit on fitness-to-practise panels – its first major recruitment drive for five years.GMC investigation as fitness to practise cases soar