What We Do
GMC Legal Specialists
Why Choose GMC Defence Barristers?
In-depth knowledge of the workings of the GMC is just one of the vital attributes of our defence barristers. We provide an excellent doctors defence service which tailored to the needs of all doctors of all levels and of all specialties.
You will receive a legal service of the very highest calibre. You will be kept informed with regular updates and as a result you will be in control of your own case.
Our barristers are cost-effective which is also one of the major benefits in the legal marketplace. You will be told the cost of pursuing your matter before you have to decide anything.
We provide an excellent doctors defence service which tailored to the needs of all doctors of all levels and of all specialties.
What We Do
Our GMC defence service can assist you in the following areas:
Registration and licensing
- Getting registered
- Specialist and GP registration
- Relinquishing registration [voluntary erasure]
- Relinquishing your licence to practice
- Restoration to the register and applying for a licence
Fitness To Practise
- The investigation process
- Interim Orders
- Substantive hearings
- Sanctions and mitigation
- Advice for doctors without a designated body
- Advice for doctors with a designated body
- Responsible officers
GENERAL MEDICAL COUNCIL
The Role of the GMC
The GMC is an independent organisation that helps protect patients and improve education and practice
The GMC decides which doctors can work in the UK and they oversee medical education and training
The GMC sets standards for doctors
The GMC take action when they believe a doctor to be putting patients or the public’s confidence in the profession at risk
GMC standards set out the values, knowledge, skills and behaviour required of doctors working in the UK
Good Medical Practice
The core professional standards cover the fundamental aspects of a doctor’s role and outline standards expected of all
doctors working in the UK
Doctors must make sure their practice meets the expected standards in the following 4 domains:
Knowledge, Skills and Performance
Safety and Quality
Communication, Partnership and Teamwork
Fitness To Practise
The GMC deals with the most serious complaints about doctors. These are complaints that may require a doctor’s registration to be restricted or removed to protect the public and uphold public confidence in the medical profession.
Most complaints are settled locally through the doctor’s employer but the GMC may need to act where there are:
Serous or repeated mistakes in carrying out medical procedures, diagnosis or in prescribing drugs;
Failure to examine a patient properly
Serious concerns about knowledge of the English language
Fraud or dishonesty
Serious breaches of patient confidentiality
Serious criminal offences
The GMC do not usually investigate complaints that at over 5 years old unless there are exceptional reasons in the public interest for doing so.
When a complaint comes in the GMC will assess whether they need to investigate. In some cases they may carry out a provisional enquiry. This type of enquiry is limited and at the outset will assist the GMC in deciding whether to open an investigation.
In some cases the GMC may send the complaint to the doctor’s “responsible officer” – a senior officer responsible for monitoring the performance of the doctor and ensuring the doctor’s skills and knowledge are up to date.
If there are concerns that raise questions about a doctor’s fitness to practise an investigation will commence. The GMC will request further information from the complainant or organisation that made the complaint / referral.
The complaint will then be disclosed to the doctor and their employer
Once the investigation is complete two GMC case examiners [one medical and one non-medical] will consider the case. They can:
- Close the case with no further action
- Issue a warning
- Refer the case to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service for a fitness to practise hearing
- Agree undertakings with the doctor
- If the case examiners do not agree, then the case will be considered by an Investigating Committee who have the same powers as the case examiners.
If the case examiners or the Investigating Committee decide that a doctor’s fitness to practise is not impaired they may issue a warning. A warning will be appropriate if the concerns raised indicate a significant departure from the standards set out in “Good Medical Practice”.
The Investigating Committee will also consider cases where the case examiners have decided to issue a warning but the doctor disputes the facts or where the doctor has requested that the matter be considered at a hearing of the investigating committee. The hearing will take place in public.
At any stage during the investigation, the GMC may refer the doctor to the MPTS for an interim orders hearing. The Interim Orders Panel can remove or restrict a doctor’s registration during the investigation process, if it is necessary for the protection of the public, or otherwise in the public interest or in the interest of the doctor
Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service [MPTS]
The MPTS runs hearings for doctors whose fitness to practise is called into question. They protect the public by making independent decisions about a doctor’s fitness to practise measured against professional standards set by the GMC. They have powers to impose sanctions against the doctor’s registration where necessary to protect the public.
Once the GMC have referred your case to a fitness to practise hearing, MPTS will arrange case management conferences. It is the role of the case manager to ensure that preparation for the hearing is efficient and fair. Directions can be given relating to witnesses, experts etc. These directions will need to be carried out by specified dates.
The doctor must raise any preliminary legal issues at these conferences.
At least 28 days before the hearing the MPTS will send out notice of the hearing. This notice will include the alleged facts to support the allegation that the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired, explain the panel’s power and provide details of the hearing date, time and venue. This notice will also remind the doctor of his / her right to be legally represented.
All hearings are governed by the Medical Act 1983 and the GMC (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2004.
The doctor must provide a list of all the documents on which he / she intends to rely 14 days after receipt of the GMC documents
Seven copies of the bundle must be sent to the GMC correctly paginated and indexed
Hearings follow a 3 stage process
Findings of Fact
The panel has to decide whether any of the facts not admitted by the doctor are proved on the basis of the evidence presented by the GMC representative and by the doctor or his / her representative.
Decisions on Impairment
The panel has to decide whether the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired based on the facts proved at stage one. If it isn’t the panel may consider issuing a warning. If your fitness to practise is impaired the hearing continues to stage three.
Decision on Sanction
The panel has to decide whether your registration has to be restricted or removed and if so whether this should happen immediately
Sanctions can include conditions of practice [maximum 3 years] suspension [maximum 1 year] or erasure
The panel’s decision is not intended to be punitive but may have punitive effect
The main reason for imposing a sanction is to protect the public
If a panel decides to impose a sanction the doctor has 28 days to appeal the decision.
If the doctor attended the hearing, the 28 days run from the date of the panel’s decision. If the doctor was not present, the 28 days run from the day the written notice of sanction is received.
The appeal is heard by the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland and the Court of Sessions in Scotland.
The Professional Standards Authority [PSA] can appeal against decisions that they think are too lenient or should not have been made when it is in the public interest to do so.