Doctors, Convictions, Cautions & The GMC
GMC Processes in Conviction and Caution Cases
The GMC has a number of statutory disposal routes when it comes to dealing with a doctor who has been convicted of a criminal offence. The GMC can take no action, impose a warning, agree undertakings, or refer the matter to a fitness to practice hearing. The GMC has compiled guidance to GMC decision-makers on the criteria they should consider, when determining which route to dispose of a conviction or caution case. See the GMC guidance: Guidance on convictions, cautions, determinations and other methods of disposal
For other determinations and statutory or criminal justice disposals that maybe at the lower end of the offending spectrum, and which do not constitute formal police cautions or criminal convictions, the GMC also possesses powers to deal with them. The above GMC guidance is relevant to how the GMC disposes of such matters. Such matters will usually be treated as professional misconduct, and if serious enough, could justify a warning or a referral to a fitness to practise hearing. But each allegation is fact specific, and the GMC is less likely to take regulatory intervention if the conduct lacks seriousness and is unrelated to the practice of medicine. It should be noted that certain conduct can still bring the profession into disrepute even if it is unrelated to medicine. There are a number of cases that set out the dividing line between cases that the GMC should and should not deal with.
A doctor is obligated to inform the GMC about convictions (including overseas convictions) and cautions. See our article: Mandatory Obligations for Self-Referral in Conviction and Caution Cases. A doctor is also obligated to inform the GMC when they have been charged with a criminal offence. A failure to inform the GMC could lead to additional misconduct findings, for being in breach of Domain 4 the code of conduct for doctors: Good Medical Practice
Note that the GMC does scrutinise a doctor’s practice where they have accepted a community resolution disposal if they become aware of it, but there does not seem to be a mandatory requirement to disclose it. As a community resolution disposal will be disclosed on an enhanced CRB, current and future employers will learn of it when they see the ECRB disclosure, it is probably best to disclose it where the job application forms or contracts require such things. Further, it is unclear whether a doctor will need to disclose it to the GMC each time they extend their registration. In any event, it may be protective of a longer doctor’s longer term interests for them to disclose community resolution disposals (CRDs) to their employer, and the performers lists (if a GP), and to the GMC.
If you are a doctor who is unsure about your self-reporting obligations in relation to cautions, convictions, overseas convictions, or other formal and statutory disposals, we can advise. Contact Doctors Defence Service on 0800 10 88 739, or use our contact form to reach us. All such preliminary discussions are without obligation and free of charge.