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Proposed GMC threshold change could ‘open the floodgates’ to FTP investigations

Proposed change to GMC threshold could ‘open the floodgates’ to FTP investigations

Several groups have criticised the GMC’s proposed changes to its Good Medical Practice (GMP) guide, saying they could ‘open the floodgates’ to FTP investigations.

The consultation closes today (20 July), and a number of groups have submitted critical responses.

The suggested amendments include removing the caveat that it would only launch a fitness-to-practise (FTP) investigation when there was ‘serious or persistent failure’ to follow GMP.

Under the revised rules, the GMC explained it will act ‘where there is a risk to patients or public confidence in medical professionals, or where it is necessary to maintain professional standards.’

The alterations to GMP, which was last updated in 2013, were subject to a 12-week consultation, ending today.

In the Medical Protection Society’s (MPS) official statement, medical director Dr Rob Hendry said the change to the threshold statement was a ‘concern’ as it could ‘open the floodgates to [FTP] cases’.

He said: ‘We understand that in proposing this change, the GMC is trying to explain more comprehensively when it might take action to protect the public, however, we believe the previous statement is clearer in setting expectations to doctors, patients and the public the level of concerns that are appropriate to be referred to the GMC.

‘The new proposed statement is not sufficient in setting out the seriousness of concerns that the GMC is focused on and may open the floodgates to cases that fall well short of the threshold for action.’

He added that ‘trust in the regulator is currently on a knife edge’. 

The MPS highlighted that between 2016 and 2020, the GMC received an average of 8,600 enquiries a year in relation to a doctor’s fitness to practise but less than 2% of these led to erasure or suspension each year.

Chair of grassroots organisation GP Survival Dr John Hughes told Pulse: ‘GP Survival is concerned about the wording highlighted by MPS as it appears to make the threshold for referral looser and more vague, which is contrary to the pious words from GMC about encouraging local resolution of issues and reserving referral for only genuinely serious breaches of professionalism or patient safety.

‘It is well recognised that GMC referral and investigation are harmful processes for doctors, not just stressful [but] resulting in deterioration of mental and physical health, reducing ability to focus on patient care and good practice, and in too many cases resulting in suicide.’

Meanwhile, Medical Defence Union (MDU) director of medical services Dr Caroline Fryar said: ‘We are concerned that some sections in the proposed new guidance read as a vision of perfection and do not reflect the realities of doctors’ daily working lives. We worry the guidance will have unintended consequences such as increasing the number of investigations.’

Dr Fryar concluded: ‘It is important to have maximum clarity from the GMC without creating sweeping and burdensome duties on doctors.’

New data from last month revealed that the GMC launched another 23 appeals against its tribunal’s rulings since the Government committed to disallowing GMC appeals in June 2018.

The GMC also last month said that findings against GP Dr Manjula Arora should not stand and that the dishonesty test was ‘incorrectly’ applied in her case, effectively overturning the ruling to suspend her for a month over ‘dishonesty’ about a laptop.

And a report by the regulator has shown that five doctors died by suicide while under GMC investigation between 2018 and 2020.

READERS' COMMENTS [7]

Vinci Ho 20 July, 2022 10:30 am

Well , well , well
You know what GMC and MTS are like , I am not surprised and it demonstrates how obstinate this establishment has already become .
The politically correctness quintessentially overkills .
Keep sending in your comments on this matter please

The Prime Minister 20 July, 2022 11:58 am

The GMC want to keep in with their political masters and The Daily Nutter………Why don’t we stop paying all GPs, make them work 100 hours per week for free and put them in the stocks once a month (because it will keep The Daily Jerk happy)…….

Patrufini Duffy 20 July, 2022 5:10 pm

Imagine if all 30 GPs in your locality, said stuff you CQC – rate us all as inadequate.
Imagine…

David Church 20 July, 2022 6:29 pm

There’s not a locality near here with anywhere near 30 GPs!

Bonglim Bong 21 July, 2022 10:17 am

One of the difficulties of GMP is that it does not take in to context the circumstances or strains placed on the clinician.

I.e. a GP is told they must see 60 patients in a day, what to do they do?
See 60 and risk mistakes through tiredness – get referred to GMC when one of them dies
Declines to see the last 30 – and gets referred to GMC when one oft them dies.

There is also the massive elephant in the room that the process of getting highlighted to the GMC is not free of discrimination. It is absolutely incorrect to assume there is no racism (or other discrimination) in the country. A moderate error – perhaps to a family who is racist – could easily lead to an apology, discussion and move on with a white British doctor – but a GMC referral from the family if the doctor was from a different ethnic group.
There needs to be a mechanism to correct for this. Without that mechanism the whole confidence in the GMC is undermined.

Long Gone 21 July, 2022 11:47 am

Sounds like just what we need.
Another concrete lifebelt around the neck of a drowning profession.
I would expect nothing less.

Patrufini Duffy 21 July, 2022 2:24 pm

Ha David – woops. Maybe the 2 then.