GMC powers ‘causing distrust’

A defence body has urged for an urgent Government update on when it will strip the GMC’s power to appeal Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) decisions – a commitment it made four years ago.

The Medical Protection Society’s call came after a Freedom of Infor­mation request showed the GMC had lodged 23 appeals since June 2018, when the Government accepted recommendations of the Prof Sir Norman Williams review into gross negligence manslaughter. 

His review, following the case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, said removing the GMC’s right of appeal against MPTS decisions would help address doctors’ mistrust of the Council and contribute to cultivating the openness culture needed for improved patient safety. 

It also said public protection would still be maintained, with the Profes­sional Standards Authority retaining its near identical right to appeal MPTS decisions.

MPS medical director Dr Rob Hendry said: ‘The GMC’s power to appeal decisions made by the MPTS has created distrust between the medical profession and the regulator and contributed to a culture of fear. 

‘Fitness-to-practise proceedings are stressful and lengthy enough for doctors, without the added worry that the GMC can seek to override the decision made by the MPTS if it does not agree. 

‘This is a concern for all doctors, whether they are working in the NHS or in private practice.’

Thirteen leading healthcare organisations last year joined MPS in calling on the Government to finally see through its commitment on this. 

 Dr Bawa-Garba was erased from the medical register after the GMC appealed against a tribunal ruling suspending her for 12 months, then reinstated after judges found the original tribunal decision appropriate.