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Fitness-to-practise panel to become more independent from GMC

The GMC’s fitness-to-practise hearing panel is set to gain further independence from the regulator’s investigative functions ‘to enhance public and professional confidence’ in medical regulation, following a DH consultation.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), which was established by the GMC to make decisions over doctors’ fitness-to-practise cases, is set to become a statutory committee of the GMC to ‘enhance the separation’ between the regulator’s role in investigating complaints and the role of deciding on the outcome of FTP hearings.

The DH’s conclusions stated: ‘The consultation responses demonstrated strong support for the principle of enhancing the separation between the GMC’s role in investigating fitness to practise concerns and its role in adjudicating on whether those concerns amount to impaired fitness to practise.

‘In view of the responses received, and incorporating the changes discussed above, we consider that establishing the MPTS as a statutory committee is the best way to enhance and protect the separation between the investigation and adjudication roles while retaining the adjudication function with the GMC.’

The move to grant MPTS greater independence from the GMC comes after the largest ever study on complaints revealed that doctors are more likely to do practise defensively following a complaint.