DOCTORS must not hesitate to inform the GMC if they are charged with or convicted of a traffic offence.
They are obliged to report the matter “without delay”, according to the latest GMC guidance, if they have accepted a caution, been charged with or found guilty of any criminal offence anywhere in the world. The exception would be where a doctor is issued with a fixed penalty notice. This might be for minor traffic violations such as not wearing a seatbelt, having a broken headlight or minor speeding offences.
If the matter is settled by paying a fine and no criminal conviction is recorded, there is no need to alert the GMC. Sometimes in speeding offences, if the speed is only slightly over the limit, the driver will be given the option of a speeding ticket and penalty points on their licence as an alternative to prosecution.
Clearly, offences such as excessive speeding, causing death by dangerous driving or drink driving must be reported to the GMC.
It is important that doctors are aware of their obligations in reporting traffic offences. The MDDUS has provided advice in a number of cases where members have been convicted of this type of crime but have not reported it to the GMC. They have ended up being subject to investigation or being issued with a warning.
GMC guidance goes on to say that doctors must inform them if they “accept the option of paying a Penalty Notice for Disorder at the upper tier penalty level (in England and Wales) or a Fixed Penalty Notice under the Anti-Social Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004.” It is clear that all offences, with the exception of those settled by a fixed penalty notice, should be declared.
Jane O’Brien, Head of Standards at the GMC, said: “In the interest of patient safety, it is important for us to be informed about all matters which may bring a doctor’s fitness to practise into question. If doctors are unsure about whether they should report a particular matter to us they should seek advice from their defence body or contact the GMC directly, and we will be happy to advise.”
MDDUS encourages members to get in touch for clarification on GMC obligations in reporting traffic offences, with the exception of minor violations.
ACTION: Contact the MDDUS for advice on GMC disclosure of any criminal offences apart from minor traffic violations.