Case file

Threshold for a GMC investigation

Graphic of two people in a disagreement
  • Date: 23 June 2023
  • |
  • 3 minute read


A GP – Dr P – contacts MDDUS in regard to a personal dispute with a building contractor in which a foreman has threatened to report him to the General Medical Council (GMC). The foreman alleges that Dr P made a rude comment about his weight, which he claims is due to a medical condition.

Dr P says he cannot recall what was said but that it was in the context of an argument over a kitchen installation project that has overrun. He wants to know whether the GMC would investigate such a matter.


An MDDUS adviser contacts Dr P to provide advice.

The adviser confirms to Dr P that any individual or organisation can contact the GMC with concerns about a registered doctor. The GMC works to protect patient safety and support medical education and practice across the UK. It will investigate cases where there is concern that a doctor’s actions could be putting the safety of patients, or the public's confidence in doctors, at risk.

Dr P is advised that a referral made to the GMC will be entered into a triage process to determine whether the concerns raised may indicate that a doctor's fitness to practise is currently impaired. The adviser points out that the vast majority of complaints to the GMC do not progress past the triage stage, in which case Dr P may hear nothing further.

The matter may progress to a provisional enquiry, which is an initial enquiry usually limited to gathering targeted information at triage to determine whether a full fitness to practise investigation is required, If this happens, Dr P will be contacted by the GMC to provide further details and will be invited to comment on the concerns raised. If he receives correspondence from the GMC, Dr P is advised that he should contact MDDUS for assistance.

The adviser further points out that doctors are held to a very high standard of professional behaviour and are expected to maintain that standard both in their professional and personal lives. The GMC may investigate concerns about the personal conduct of a doctor, even if these are unrelated to their clinical practice. But the regulator will only consider investigating a concern if it were to meet the threshold of potentially calling into question the doctor’s ongoing fitness to practise.

The adviser reassures Dr P that it would seem unlikely that the GMC would consider that this matter raises a question about his ongoing fitness to practise. However, the nature of any complaint made to the GMC (including the tone and content) may influence whether the regulator considers it necessary to investigate a concern further.

Dr P is advised to contact MDDUS again immediately if there are any developments in relation to the matter.


  • Most complaints to the GMC do not progress past the triage stage.
  • The GMC may investigate concerns about the personal conduct of a doctor even if these are unrelated to their clinical practice.
  • Contact immediately if you receive any correspondence from the GMC regarding your fitness to practise.

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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