Does legal representation make a difference?
In simple terms, yes!
Evidence by the General Medical Council (GMC) itself found that doctors who lacked legal representation tended to receive more serious outcomes. The data showed clearly that both “non-attendance and lack of legal representation” were consistently related to more serious outcomes.”
Similar data revealed that – of the two outcomes, suspension or erasure – doctors with legal representation at hearings were significantly more likely to merely be suspended (72%), rather than struck off (28%). In contrast, 69% of self-represented doctors were struck off.
More recently, research published concluded that:
“Legal representation was seen as important by participants because legal advice could support and guide registrants through the FtP process, which is complex and legalistic. Legal advice was seen as important in aiding registrants to understand regulators’ expectations, especially in terms of the need for registrants to demonstrate insight and perhaps to show evidence of remediation activities. Lack of legal representation was, therefore, seen to potentially have an impact in terms of the seriousness of the outcome for registrants who are perhaps unaware of how to present their case to best effect.”
The case for legal representation is absolutely clear and this therefore clearly points to the fact that doctors who do not engage with the GMC and/or do so but without the support of legal representation are taking, potentially, significant risks with their registration.
Are you at particular risk?
Not all doctors are equal. It is unfortunately the case that certain career paths, demographics and other factors leaves certain doctors at increased risk of being referred to the GMC.
Whilst not a comprehensive explanation or overview of GMC data, this data indicates that the following are increased risk factors contributing to disproportionate referrals to the GMC:
- BME doctors are at higher risk of being complained about, with female BME doctors being at highest risk
- Male doctors twice as likely as female doctors to be complained about, with male GPs having the highest rate of being complained about
- Doctors in obstetrics, psychiatry and gynaecology were among the speciality groups particularly likely to be complained about
- Greater proportions of locum doctors are complained about than non-locum doctors
- Doctors with previous complaints are at greater risk of future complaints
- Doctors who graduated outside the UK
- Locum doctors are more likely to have complaints that reach full investigation threshold
GMC investigations are daunting, prolonged and legalistic experiences
It is important that you understand what to expect if your GMC investigation leads to an MPTS tribunal hearing, and why the tribunal process is universally described as ‘daunting’. You will need to prepare for a trial in all but name – the hearing will be complex, formal and adversarial; the panel will be headed by a legally qualified chair; the process will be broad-ranging and lengthy.
It is also important to remember that MPTS hearings are overseen and managed by Legally Qualified Chairs. These chairs are chosen from a pool of very experienced legal practitioners – defined as “a barrister, chartered legal executive or solicitor in England and Wales; an advocate or solicitor in Scotland; or a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland or solicitor of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland”.
Kings View Barristers
With over 30 years combined experience, Kings View Chambers have established itself as one of the best when it comes to fitness to practise defence. We fully understand that fitness to practise defence is not merely about processes and procedures. We also understand that we are working with people who are anxious and worried about what investigations might mean for them, their professions and the reputations.
We are proud to be rated ‘excellent’ by our clients. Our commitment to client care is genuine in both seeking the very best outcomes for our clients, but also ensuring we do what we can to support them through the process.
Courses suitable for any health and social care practitioner who is considering making an application for restoration back onto the register.
Insight & Remediation
Courses that are suitable for any healthcare practitioner who is facing an investigation or hearing at work or before their regulatory body.
Probity, Ethics & Professionalism
Courses designed for those facing an investigation involving in part or in whole honesty, integrity and professionalism.
I am a GMC Defence Barrister who has represented large number of medical professionals before their regulatory bodies in either first instance proceedings or appeals. I can help with all matters relating to GMC Fitness to Practise Referrals issues including:
- GMC fitness to practise referrals
- GMC fitness to practise hearings
- Appeals against a MPTS Tribunal determination
- MPTS Interim Order hearings
- Appeals against a MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal determination
- Preparing your case before the Case Examiners
- Help with the decision of the Case Examiners
- Help with voluntary removal
- Registration advice
- Appeal against refusal of registration
- Restoration to the Register
- Investigation and disciplinary hearings at work
- Criminal investigation and proceedings
- Police cautions
- DBS [Disclosure and Barring Service] issues