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GMC to restart fitness-to-practise investigations this month

The GMC has set out its plans to restart fitness to practise (FTP) investigations this month.

Existing FTP cases will resume, where this is possible, with flexibility on timescales and on the basis of direct discussion with those involved and ‘careful consideration and agreement’ with responsible officers, the regulator said.

Acknowledging that investigations are ‘difficult’ for all involved’, the GMC said it is of the view that delaying decisions any further could ‘cause additional stress’.

It also said investigations would resume with the ‘understanding that many individuals and organisations remain under pressure and any potential impact needs to be proportionate’.

During this period, it will continue to review concerns that are raised to protect patient safety.

Charlie Massey, chief executive and registrar at the GMC, said: ‘Investigations are difficult for everyone involved, but we’re mindful that delaying our decisions any longer could cause additional stress, so we need to take a balanced approach. This work will progress in direct discussion with affected doctors, medical defence and support organisations, employers and complainants.

‘And because different parts of the system and health service experience the impact of the pandemic in different ways, we’ll be flexible on timescales, and we will highlight the support available to everyone involved.’

In April, the GMC took steps to minimise the impact of its FTP investigations by only requesting information from employers and healthcare professionals where there was immediate concern about patient safety.

Meanwhile, plans are also in motion for the return of Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board 2 (PLAB 2) medical tests for doctors from overseas.

From today (3 July), the first eligible group will be able to be book PLAB 2 test dates, which will occur from 13 August. Priority will be granted to a group of approximately 240 overseas doctors who are currently in the UK, because they were unable to return to their home countries and had their exams cancelled in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Bookings will then gradually open up to other groups of eligible doctors, and because of anticipated high demand, the GMC is aiming to identify and prioritise candidates who already have a job offer and would be able to join the NHS workforce quickly once registered.

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