We are the first ever solicitors to escalate a client case in a PMETB appeal.
We understand the significance of a caution or conviction for any doctor and so will work hard to defend your case whilst ensuring that we do not jeopardise your position before the GMC as we fully understand the issues involved for you as a doctor, both professionally and personally.
You can benefit from our specialist team of lawyers comprising of GMC Lawyers and criminal defence Advocates. This enables us, where necessary, to provide effective legal representation for doctors who face criminal by the police or the NHS Counter Fraud Team. Our team are experienced at representing doctors in police station interviews under caution and before the Magistrates Court or Crown Court in any criminal proceedings should an investigation proceed that far.
Our Solicitors are happy to speak to any doctor over the telephone for an initial free consultation, so that you can make an enquiry with confidence and without obligation.
Throughout a GMC investigation, our experienced GMC lawyers will provide you with Specialist legal representation and guidance throughout your case. We understand the stress you face when you are subjected to a trust disciplinary investigation or a GMC investigation and the far- reaching consequences for your career, reputation and personal life, when your suitability to practise as a doctor is called into question. We will work closely with you, taking a proactive approach and keeping you informed at all stages.
We deal with Fitness to practise, Interim Order Panel Hearing, Registration matters.
Due to our extensive experience we prepare robust defences to support denied allegations and where necessary, we will present the Panel with compelling mitigation on your behalf.
We will offer support and guidance throughout what can be a traumatic, complicated and lengthy process, helping you to continue to focus on your training and career, safe in the knowledge that we will use our depth of experience to ensure that we secure you the best possible outcome for your most unique situation.
Whilst not every case will follow each of these steps or occur in this order, this guide provides an overview of the General Medical Council’s (GMC) fitness to practise procedures.
The types of concerns the GMC may investigate as follows:
- Poor performance
- A criminal conviction or caution in the UK (or elsewhere for an offence which would be criminal offence if committed in the UK)
- Physical or mental ill health
- A determination (decision) by a regulatory body either in the UK or overseas
- Lack of the necessary knowledge of English language to be able to practice medicine safely in the UK
Interim Orders Panel (IOP) (referral pursuant to Rule 6)
The adjudication of cases is dealt with by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).
At any stage during an investigation, if the GMC is of the view that the IOP should give consideration as to whether the doctor’s registration should be subject to restriction whilst the investigation is on-going, it can refer them to an independent hearing before an IOP.
In accordance with section 41A of the Medical Act 1983, where satisfied that it is “necessary for the protection of members of the public or is otherwise in the public interest or is In the interests of a fully registered person the IOP can suspend or make a doctor’s registration subject to conditions for a period not exceeding 18 months. These orders are subject to review (ordinarily every 6 months.
The initial steps the GMC will take to investigation concerns will be dependent on the circumstances and the specific allegations, but may include obtaining documentary evidence/witness statements from the complainant(s) and/third party (the police/employer), obtaining an expert report or commissioning an assessment of the doctor’s performance health, and/or knowledge of the English language.
This stage of the process can take some time, during which the GMC will send periodical letters to provide updates
Rule 5- Rule 7 of the GMC (Fitness to Practise) Rules Orders of Council 2004 (the rules)
The Registrar will write to the doctor providing them with the documentation in support of the allegation. The doctor will be given a 28 day period to respond (extensions can be requested and will be provided in appropriate circumstances). In accordance with paragraph 23a of GMP, doctors must cooperate with the investigation.
At this stage, a solicitor or medico-legal adviser should be consulted to assist with the preparation of a response to the Rule 7 letter.
The matter will be referred to the case examiners (one medical, one lay). The will decide whether to:
- Conclude the case with no further action
- Issue a warning
- Agree undertaking, or
- Refer the case to the MPTS for a hearing
If the case examiners are not unanimous in their decision about whether to close a case or refer it to the MPTS, the case will then be considered by the Investigation Committee) IC).
If the case examiners or the IC decide that the doctor’s fitness to practise is not currently impaired, but they were in breach of the GMP and /or other guidance, they can issue the doctor with a warning.
Referral to the MPTS
Of the case is referred to the MPTS for a hearing, the GMC will invite the doctor to take part in its pre-hearing processes, during which the timetable for disclosure is set, any preliminary matters are discussed and a listing window for the hearing is found.
An MPTS panel, made up of lay and medical members, will hear all the evidence and decide whether the facts found proven, the statutory grounds are met and whether the doctor’s fitness to practice is currently impaired. Each stage is taken separately.
If the MPTS panel decides the doctor’s fitness to practise is not impaired, they may invite submissions on whether to a warning is appropriate.
If the panel decides that the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired they can:
- Impose conditions on the doctors registration
- Suspend the doctor's registration
- Erase the doctor from the register
Any sanction will usually come into effect 28 days the hearing, unless the MPTS panel an interim order (as above)
A doctor has 28 days in which to appeal to the High Court or Court of Sessions (Scotland) against a decision or sanction issued by a MPTS panel.
Health Care Services
Against an evolving NHS backdrop, you need legal advisors who understand the issues surrounding the balance between obtaining value for money and providing the best acre possible, particularly in light of the financial pressures and the continued involvement of regulators including the Care Quality Commission and Monitor.
Our firm has acted for many practitioners from various disciplines in regulatory proceedings and appeals including (MPTS, GMC , NMC & GDC)
Bringing together significant expertise under one roof, we act members of union professionals from various disciplines, and on instructions from solicitors and members of the public.
What should I do now?
For initial advice, a quotation or to arrange a meeting with Afshan Nawaz of our office, please call on 07985370717.