Dealing ‘firmly and fairly’ with doctors whose fitness to practise is in doubt is one of the statutory duties of the General Medical Council.
Fitness to Practise panels hear evidence and decide whether a doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired. Fitness to Practise Panel hearings are the final stage of the GMC´s procedures following a complaint about a doctor.
A fitness to practise panel comprises medical and non-medical people appointed by the Council to inquire into allegations of impaired fitness to practise.
The GMC is normally represented at the hearing by a barrister. The doctor is invited to attend and is usually present and legally represented. If the panel concludes that the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired, the following sanctions are available:
- to take no action
- to accept undertakings offered by the doctor provided the panel is satisfied that such undertakings protect patients and the wider public interest
- to place conditions on the doctor’s registration
- to suspend the doctor’s registration
- to erase the doctor’s name from the Medical Register, so that they can no longer practise.