Engagement crucial in fitness to practise complaints

PROPER engagement with the fitness to practise process is a crucial factor in outcome for doctors facing MPTS hearings, according to research conducted by the GMC.

A study of all 1,049 doctors referred for hearings at the MPTS (Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service) between June 2012 to May 2017 found that doctors who did not attend their hearing or lacked legal representation tended to receive more serious outcomes.

Age, race, sex, or location of primary medical qualification had no statistical impact on the seriousness of tribunal outcomes.

Hearing outcomes were also shown to be unrelated to the year produced, suggesting that MPTS decisions have been consistent since its inception in 2012.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC said: "Given the strong link between more serious outcomes and doctors not attending or having no legal representation at tribunals, we are exploring how we can encourage doctors to engage with the hearing process more.

"We are also continuing our work to tackle the disproportionate representation of some groups of doctors in referrals to a tribunal hearing. We know that doctors who are black and minority ethnic, male, older or non-UK graduates continue to be referred more often to our processes."

A recent MDDUS article addressed the importance of prompt engagement with MDDUS when facing a regulatory complaint.

"An understandable reaction might be to immediately fire back a letter either denying or defending your actions – or maybe just slip the correspondence into your desk and forget about it for now. MDDUS would urge members to do neither.

"All regulatory matters should be brought to our attention without delay. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes all correspondence from the GMC or GDC where a concern has been raised about a member’s fitness to practise."

Link: Engagement, not personal characteristics, was associated with the seriousness of regulatory adjudication decisions about physicians: a cross-sectional study