The GMC’s fitness to practise (FTP) and registration processes are mostly governed by statute (both primary and secondary legislation). The Human Rights Act 1988 also applies to the General Medical Council (GMC), as the GMC is deemed to be a public authority. By way of example, Article 6 (the right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights, must be applied by panels of the General Medical Council, and also any officers who make decisions on a case on paper.
Every so often an issue may arise as to the interpretaion of GMC rules and regulations, and a doctor might appeal or seek judicial review of a decision of a GMC panel. Such cases may occasionally be of assistance to other doctors that are being investigated or disciplined by the the GMC. Other regulatory body and tribunal case law may also be applicable to the processes of the GMC. In these pages, Doctors Defence Service summarises and digests GMC and other cases that may be of relevance or of interest to doctors. Some case law is relevant to appeals and judicial reviews of GMC panel decisions, some concerns fitness to practise hearings, and some is related to doctors responsibilities.
The GMC must apply case law and statutory law in a case, as applicable to the given circumstances. Doctors who have some familiarity with the law will have a much greater understanding of how and when to make submissions, and when to call different types of evidence. Doctors Defence Service lawyers keep up to date on the current legal position and can advise doctors on the steps that they should take when seeking to maximise their prospects of success at a hearing. Doctors who take legal advice or whom instruct an experienced lawyer will stand a better chance than those who do not do their legal homework. The summaries that appear here can only give a flavour of the approaches that might be taken in a hearing. They are not a substitute for taking legal advice. Case law may change rapidly and so the reader must beware that these pages may be out of date by the time they are published on the Doctors Defence Service website.
A doctor who is reported to the GMC will often (and understandably) have little knowledge about the GMC’s fitness to practise processes. The GMC’s investigatory process usually starts with a complaint about a doctor. The case then progresses through an investigatory stage. Some cases are closed at the GMC’s investigatory stage. Some cases progress to a live hearing stage, where witnesses are called and the doctor gives evidence before a fitness to practise panel. A fitness to practise panel has a number of disposal options available to it. The options include: erasure of the doctor’s name from the register, suspension for a period of months, or long-term restrictions on practice. A number of doctors appeal the decisions of the GMC FTP/MPTS panels each year. Appeals may concern any determination that the panel has made, or the overall (un)fairness of the hearing or fitness to practise process.
For case law and information on appeals from the GMC (and MPTS) decisions see our page on: Appeals. Otherwise click on a subject link below to go to the relevant discussion page about the GMC fitness to practise process.
- GMC Investigatory Stage Processes
- GMC Case Examiner Decisions
- GMC Warnings
- GMC FTP / MPTS – Charges
- GMC FTP / MPTS – Evidence and Fairness
- GMC FTP / MPTS – Determination of Facts
- GMC FTP / MPTS- Reasons for Factual Decisions
The above list contains links to issues concerning relevant GMC and MPTS case law. See also our general GMC / MPTS Legal Representation pages. You can contact us on 0800 10 88 739 or use our Contact Form.
Doctors Defence Service