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GP legal teams could be fined for delaying fitness-to-practise hearings

GPs’ legal teams in fitness-to-practise hearings could be forced to pay costs if they cause ‘unnecessary delays’ in proceedings under proposals formulated by the FtP regulators.

The DH will consult later in the year on this and other changes to the way hearings are run by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) after referrals from the GMC.

The DH – which wants to speed up the hearings process and make it more efficient – will also consider whether to introduce the right for the GMC to appeal decisions of MPTS panels and to allow some cases to be heard without the need for specialist legal advice.

MPTS chair David Pearl said: ‘The next step is legislative change that, among other things will give our panels power to impose costs, just like other tribunals. Costs are rarely imposed in other tribunals, but the threat can concentrate minds and prevent delays. Our ambition is to create an efficient, modern adjudication service that is fair and meets the needs of doctors, patients and the public.’

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘We are all committed to further reform – a faster more efficient system is also a fairer one.’