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Ground-breaking court ruling paves way for doctors to take GMC to tribunal

A landmark ruling has paved the way for GPs to be able to take regulators to the Employment Tribunal.

A hearing at the Supreme Court earlier this month clarified that the Employment Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear Polish nephrologist Dr Eva Michalak’s discrimination case against the GMC.

The GMC had argued that the judicial reviewprocess already provides for an appeal in these matters.

Last week’s ruling means that Dr Michalak’s claim against the GMC will now be considered at an Employment Tribunal on a date which is yet to be confirmed.

Dr Michalak first took legal action after being laid off by Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in 2008 and won a sizeable payout from the trust in 2011.

The Employment Tribunal found that her dismissal had been unfair and contaminated by sex and race discrimination and victimisation. Dr Michalak received a compensation award and a public apology from the Trust.

Before the tribunal had issued its determination, the Trust had reported Dr Michalak to the GMC to consider whether she should continue to be registered as a medical practitioner.

The Trust later accepted that there had not been proper grounds to refer her and she remains registered as a medical practitioner. In the meantime, however, the GMC had begun fitness-to-practice proceedings against Dr Michalak.

She claims that the GMC discriminated against her in the way in which it pursued those proceedings, including a failure to investigate complaints she had made against other doctors employed by the Trust.

In August 2013, Dr Michalak brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal against the GMC, its chief executive and one of its investigation officers in relation to these complaints.

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘Whilst the GMC is disappointed that the Supreme Court has not upheld its appeal in this case, today’s decision does no more than clarify that the Employment Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear the case. The judgment does not address the question of whether there is any merit to the claim made by Dr Michalak.

‘We do not believe that there is merit to the claim and will defend the claim when it returns to the Employment Tribunal.

‘We do not consider that it would be appropriate to make any further comment at this stage whilst the case remains the subject of ongoing proceedings before the Employment Tribunal.’

The CQC declined to comment on the ruling and said that there were already a number of ways for providers raise challenges with CQC which include First-Tier tribunal and Judicial Review.