Figures releases by the General Medical Council (GMC) has shown a 40% increase in the number of referrals to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in the last year.

The figures released in advance of the GMC’s annual Fitness to Practise report – which is due out soon – show referrals to the MPTS are up from 200 in 2017 to 280 last year. The increase comes despite “no significant increase” in complaints made to the GMC over the past year.

The GMC is reported to have said that one of the contributing factors to the increase is because it is seeing more serious complaints which warrant referral to a tribunal.

A GMC spokesperson said that recent years have also seen more complex cases coming to the GMC. These often require being open for longer due to a number of factors including waiting for police investigations to complete, delays in local/trust investigations and deferrals by doctors, among other issues. As a consequence, this has also contributed to a higher caseload.

The GMC says it has worked to improve filtering of complaints and referrals made to ensure that investigations are only carried out in cases where the doctor poses a risk to patients or public confidence in the profession. This allows speedy assessment as to the risk a doctor may pose without a full investigation. Additionally, its Employer Liaison Service works with employers to advise on when serious incidents are appropriate for referral to the GMC.

Anthony Omo, general counsel and director of fitness to practise at the GMC said: “Over the course of 2019 there has been no significant increase in complaints or referrals to the GMC. However, we have seen an increase in the number of full investigations compared to the same period last year. We have robust investigation processes and closely monitor all cases which come to us to ensure we progress them as quickly as possible.”

Stephen McCaffrey

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