Major changes planned for fitness to practise system

DOCTORS could accept sanctions without a hearing under new GMC proposals to speed-up the fitness to practise system.

The medical regulator has launched a major public consultation on plans to overhaul the way it handles cases involving concerns about doctors. It is recommending that doctors are given the option to accept sanctions – including suspension and erasure – without their cases going to a hearing.

Patient protection would be the “driving force behind the new system”, the Council said, adding: “where possible it would avoid subjecting doctors and patients to long, stressful and sometimes harrowing public hearings. It would also be transparent – even when a case did not end with a hearing, the concerns and any sanctions would still be published on the GMC website.”

Doctors who don’t accept the proposed GMC sanction, or where there is a significant dispute over facts, would still have cases referred for a hearing. A faster process is also proposed for dealing with doctors convicted of serious crimes such as murder and rape as the GMC believes such people are “not fit to be doctors”.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the council wanted to protect patients. He said: “Our view is that attending a hearing can be a stressful experience for everyone involved and there is no need to do this if the doctor is willing to accept sanctions that protect patients.

“These changes would represent a major reform of our procedures and we are keen to ensure that all those with an interest in our work have the opportunity to contribute and respond.”

The consultation runs from January 17 to April 11.

To have your say, visit: www.gmc-uk.org/ftpreformconsultation

For registration, or any login issues, please visit our login page.