DOCTORS who abuse their professional position by preying on patients should be struck off, a GMC consultation has heard.
More serious action should be taken to punish predatory behaviour, particularly when it involves vulnerable people.
Doctors should also face more serious consequences if they fail to apologise to patients when things go wrong.
These views emerged in response to a consultation by the regulator on its Indicative Sanctions Guidance for fitness to practise panels of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).
More than 2,000 people responded to the consultation which ran from August to November last year.
Seventy eight per cent of respondents thought panels should take more serious action in cases involving bullying, sexual harassment and physical violence towards colleagues and where patients had been put at risk, while 61 per cent wanted stronger action against doctors who discriminated against colleagues or patients.
Results also showed 79 per cent agreed that the stage of a doctor’s career should be a mitigating factor when considering what action to take.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: “The overwhelming response to the consultation, and the strong support for the proposals, will help us produce better guidance to protect patients and uphold public confidence in the good doctors who are providing effective, compassionate and safe care every day.”
He said the new guidance would include an increased focus on saying sorry.
“In this consultation we asked whether failing to apologise should affect the sanction a doctor faces, and there was strong support for this to be included in new guidance. Until now this has not been highlighted as one of the factors which are likely to affect sanctions - that is now likely to change.”
The GMC will publish new guidance for MPTS fitness to practise panels reflecting on the consultation in the summer.