What happens when the GMC receives a complaint about you?

In the first of two articles, Dr Ellie Mein explains that although undergoing a GMC investigation is stressful, it is a survivable experience.

Receiving a letter from the GMC confirming they have received a complaint about you can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. 

Bear in mind, however, that only a minority of cases reach a formal hearing. For instance, in 2019, 86% of GMC cases handled by MDU in-house lawyers were resolved without a formal hearing.

Nevertheless, understanding what to expect from the process can help reduce the fear you may be feeling.

In this article, I will look at some of the steps involved in the GMC’s fitness-to-practise (FTP) procedures, so that if you are ever involved in a GMC investigation, you know what to expect.

Being notified of an investigation

The GMC receives several thousand concerns annually and around 80% of those are closed without an investigation. 

Often the doctor in question will not be made aware that a complaint has been made at all.

If you are notified of an investigation by the GMC, it is vital to contact your medical defence representatives before making any comment.

Initial contact from the GMC usually falls into three types of notification:

1. The GMC has received a complaint which it is not investigating. However, it is sharing the concern with you and your Responsible Officer (RO) so that it can be reflected on as part of your appraisal process.

2. The GMC has received a complaint and will undertake a provisional inquiry and gather further information before deciding whether to investigate. I look at this process in more detail below.

3. The GMC has received a complaint which it needs to investigate.