Support for fitness to practise reforms

THE GMC is claiming broad support from doctors and patients for many of the proposals detailed in its recent consultation on fitness to practise procedures, including plans that would see doctors able to accept a sanction without going to hearing.

The fitness to practise reforms consultation was launched in January this year and the GMC received 217 written responses from patient groups and individuals, as well as the BMA, Royal Colleges, CHRE, NHS Employers, individual doctors and medical defence organisations, including MDDUS.

Among the proposals is a mechanism by which doctors can accept a sanction without going to a full hearing, thus providing a quicker resolution to cases. Other proposals would see doctors with convictions for certain crimes, such as murder and rape and possibly fraud, automatically struck off the medical register. However, plans for doctors to be able to share information with the regulator on a 'without prejudice' basis will not be pursued after respondents voiced concerns.

Feedback from the written responses and from consultation events also helped the GMC identify areas where the plans should change or further work is needed, such as how to ensure the public and media have the opportunity to scrutinise decisions. It will also consider ways in which potentially vulnerable doctors can be supported during the process, including the provision of basic legal advice for unrepresented doctors in certain circumstances.

Niall Dickson, the Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said: "We will now develop the plans in detail, working closely with doctors and patients to make sure the changes continue to ensure there is widespread confidence in our fitness-to-practise procedures."

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