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New GMC witness support launched

The GMC has made it easier for patients and GPs to testify at fitness-to-practice hearings with the launch of a new witness support service. 

The GMC and Victim Support have launched a service to help doctors and patients deal with the ‘daunting and emotional experience' of being witnesses at fitness-to-practice hearings.

A snapshot analysis of hearings by the GMC, obtained by Pulse, found that colleagues of doctors make up around half of the witnesses testifying at hearings. 

The support service, which will offer telephone counselling and face-to-face support on the day of hearings, is available to all witnesses – whether they have been called by the GMC or the doctor – but will not be open to defendant doctors.

Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive, said: ‘Giving evidence at a hearing can be a daunting and emotional experience. We want to make sure that witnesses have access to sound, independent support, which should increase their confidence when giving evidence.'

The announcement came two weeks after the GMC adjourned a high-profile investigation into complaints about a Christian GP ‘praying with patients', after a witness refused to testify.

Following the two-day hearing Dr Richard Scott, a GP in Margate, Kent, claimed the GMC had an ‘anti-Christian bias'.