A brush with the law

When to tell your regulator about criminal proceedings

Car keys and a whisky glass
  • Date: 25 July 2023
  • |
  • 3 minute read

THE expectation that doctors and other healthcare professionals should act honestly and with integrity in their professional roles is a universal known. But it’s important to remember that the same standards also apply to their personal lives.

MDDUS has found that one particular area that can often “catch out” doctors is the need to inform their regulatory body if they are subject to criminal or regulatory proceedings (from another regulatory body) or have been criticised by an official inquiry - whether in the UK or abroad.

The General Medical Council takes this issue seriously and expects registrants to inform them “without delay”. Failure to do so could put your registration at risk.

But what exactly does the GMC need to know about, and when is it okay not to inform them?

Act swiftly

The first step is not to panic. Contact MDDUS for advice as soon as possible if you think you may need to tell the GMC about any kind of criminal or regulatory proceedings – even if this relates to circumstances beyond your professional practice.

This will allow us to provide the most appropriate advice for your specific circumstances and allow us to work with you to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Don’t be tempted to delay taking action. Incidents that occur in your personal life leading to a caution or conviction are of interest to the regulators and failure to inform them in a timely manner could lead to questions being raised about your probity. The GMC has to ensure these proceedings will not impact your fitness to practise or bring the profession into disrepute.

When to report

The GMC requires registrants to tell them without delay if, anywhere in the world:

  • you have accepted a caution from the police or been criticised by an official inquiry
  • you have been charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence
  • another professional body has made a finding against your registration as a result of fitness to practise procedures.

Common scenarios MDDUS have assisted members with and may need to be reported include:

  • receiving a fine for deliberately and repeatedly evading a train fare
  • accepting a caution for anti-social behaviour, for example a domestic dispute with a neighbour that becomes heated
  • a conviction for a road traffic offence in the UK or when driving abroad on holiday.

When not to report

The GMC confirms that registrants do not need to tell them about:

  • payment of a fixed penalty notice for a road traffic offence
  • payment of a fixed penalty notice issued by local authorities (for example, for offences such as dog fouling)
  • a penalty notice for disorder (unless it is at the “upper tier penalty level”).

If you are in any doubt whether you need to report a matter to the GMC please do not hesitate to contact MDDUS and our experience advisers will be able to advise you on your specific situation.

Contractual obligations

Healthcare professionals will be expected to follow any reporting requirements at their employing or contracting organisation in relation to criminal proceedings.

More generally, clinicians are also likely to have contractual obligations with their employer that might include reference to acting with honesty and integrity. It is important to familiarise yourself with these and any other relevant policies.


  • Remember the expectations on you as a professional to act with honesty and integrity in your personal life.
  • Contact MDDUS for advice as soon as possible if you think you may need to inform the GMC of criminal or regulatory proceedings.
  • Be sure to comply with GMC guidance on reporting.
  • Check any contractual obligations that may make reference to acting with honesty and integrity to avoid potential for dismissal when an issue may arise.
  • Read this MDDUS advice article on probity pitfalls in secondary practice.

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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