Doctors Meetings at the GMC
‘Doctors Meetings’ with the GMC
Prior to the Rule 7 stage the GMC might choose to invite a doctor to attend a Doctors Meeting. organised by the GMC’s Doctors Liaison Service. It is not mandatory for a doctor to attend such a meeting.
The doctor usually attends a Doctors Meeting with a legal representative, and the GMC will attend through sending a case examiner and a legal adviser to the doctors meeting.
There will be a discussion about the history of the case and the GMC will seek to understand the doctor’s steps of remediation and whether they have developed sufficient insight to reassure the GMC that the risk of repetition is negligible. The GMC will also want to understand the nature of the evidence that is in the doctor’s possession that assists the doctor’s cases.
The GMC case examiner or lawyer attending the meeting will make recommendations about the further evidence that it would be helpful for the case examiners to see, so that they have quality evidence available to make a decision about whether to close the case at the Rule 7 stage or whether to refer the case to a fitness to practise hearing. (Where a case is closed a GMC Warning might be imposed).
A decision on disposal of the case is not made at the Doctors Meeting. The meeting is merely a discursive exercise with the aim of using the GMC’s resources appropriately. The GMC’s guidance states:
Hearings can be very stressful for both witnesses and doctors. By sharing information earlier, we can better identify whether a hearing is needed. We have found that, in some cases, meeting with doctors at the end of the investigation means we can avoid unnecessary hearings. This speeds up the resolution of cases and reduces the stress for all involved.
(see linked document, below)
A doctor who attends a Doctors Meeting should be cautious about disclosing information without taking legal advice. While the meetings are intended to be fairly informal there is a concern that the disclosures made could influence the case examiner attending the meeting. This may be a negative influence. The GMC’s guidance on such meetings states:
We are not able to have off-the-record discussions. In the unlikely event that you told us something we were not already aware of, which indicates that the risk to the public or to public confidence is greater than we thought, we can’t ignore it. But that is not the purpose of the meeting – it is instead for you to share information that may lessen our concerns.
(see document linked below)
A doctor should properly prepare with their lawyer prior to attending the GMC Doctors Meeting. It may be appropriate to withhold submission of documents until after the meeting has concluded. In some instances it might be appropriate to submit documents in advance or during the meeting.
The doctor will still usually need to submit a full Rule 7 response after the Doctors Meeting. The Doctors Meeting might provide guidance and direction on what the case examiner identifies is missing from the evidence that is currently available, which can be helpful.
For more information on the meeting process, see the GMC’s Doctors Liaison Service’s Guidance: Meetings with Doctors
If you would like advice or guidance in relation to a Doctors Meeting, or would like to be represented at such a meeting, give us a call in strict confidence, without obligation, to discuss how may be able to assist you. Call us on 0800 10 88 739