Protection in Practice

These stories are based on real cases of us helping members like you to navigate difficult situations.

You know how important it is to have expert advice and support should claims of clinical negligence arise. But these stories demonstrate how membership can protect you beyond those clinical negligence claims to ensure your career and professional standing are protected too.

If you are concerned about any issues similar to the ones featured in these films please contact our medicolegal advice line, where our expert team are ready and happy to help.

Dr Neil Curran's story

The GMC investigates diagnosis delay

When this GP misdiagnosed cancer symptoms as something less serious he was referred to the GMC. See how our lawyers supported him through the lengthy investigation that followed and helped him defend his career and reputation.

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Facing a GMC investigation

Receiving a letter from the GMC is something every doctor dreads. The letter could be about clinical care, criminal convictions or unprofessional behaviour – anything that is perceived to have potentially put a patient at risk or contravene good medical practice.

If you are notified that the GMC intends to investigate, it's important to talk to our experts for advice on how to proceed. Don't try and handle it yourself. We're here to support you.

We can help you understand the process and consider the legal implications, helping you respond from the outset so you don't leave yourself vulnerable at a later stage in any investigation. We can advise you of the steps you are required to take and represent you in discussions with the GMC, taking this stress away from you.

If you can, have any relevant information such as medical records about the case to hand when you call us. In the meantime, don't respond to the GMC without talking to us, and don't discuss the case with anyone else.

When a concern is raised

If a GP is told that a concern has been raised and the GMC intend to investigate, then they are obliged to hand over the details of their employer but nothing else. The employer will be asked to provide any details that could aid the investigation.

You are not obliged to comment further at this point, and we strongly recommend getting in touch to consult with us should you be considering it.

It's important to keep in mind that although the GMC may be investigating a concern raised against you, it doesn't mean they have come to any particular decision about it.

Our in-house lawyers and medicolegal consultants have a vast array of experience with cases involving the GMC and are on hand to help guide you through every stage of your case.

The next step is for the GMC to gather information and evidence around the allegation. When we assist with a GMC case, we will do the same and make sure we are gathering records and expert testimony. This will help you feel ready and prepared to deal with the outcome of the GMC's initial investigation.

Responding to a 'rule 7'

Once the GMC has investigated and made a decision, the case may be closed with no further action. Alternatively, you may receive a rule 7 letter that outlines the allegations, the evidence and the findings following an investigation.

If we assist with your case, this is usually when we would respond to the GMC in order to try and achieve the best outcome for you. Before any response is due, our medicolegal experts and lawyers will have worked with you to review the facts and evidence and prepare any defence or explanation that might be needed.

Without expert help many doctors risk failing to properly evidence their case or points of mitigation, and in doing so miss the opportunity to influence the process and outcome.

Once a response has been submitted, the GMC has a number of options about how to progress with your case. They could take it to a hearing, but the majority of cases where we support our members go no further.

If the GMC refers you to a fitness to practise hearing, your Medical Protection team will continue to support you, helping you prepare for the hearing and arranging legal representation. This representation is important. We have found that doctors who represent themselves tend to face stronger sanctions than those backed by a legal team.

Most doctors who appear before a hearing with legal representation receive this support as part of their membership of an MDO like Medical Protection. For those who have to pay for this legal support, the cost can be prohibitively expensive. It is not unusual for the cost of defending a doctor to exceed £80,000 when a GMC investigation leads to a hearing.

Demonstrating insight

The GMC requires doctors going through a fitness to practise process to demonstrate that they are fit to practise medicine where they may have previously fallen short of the required standards.

The process can benefit from a doctor who is willing and able to submit insightful reflections in writing.

Making your reflections and remedial action part of your response to an investigation from the outset can help improve your chances of a positive outcome. Our experts can help you determine where you might be vulnerable to criticism from the GMC.

We offer expert medicolegal advice and a range of resources to support you with gaining and demonstrating insight. Members can access free workshops and educational materials to gain awareness and demonstrate insight by putting new strategies in place.

Prevention is ultimately a lot less stressful than dealing with a problem after it has occurred. Medical Protection courses form an important part of your CPD and can help you avoid problems occurring or escalating in the future.

Protection in practice

GPs can be held to account for their actions in many situations other than being sued, GMC investigations being one of them. It is therefore vital that you have access to expert help to anticipate professional challenges and limit the potential damage to your career and reputation.

While the Government's state-backed indemnity scheme for GPs in England and Wales will provide support with clinical negligence claims in many (although not all) cases, it won't provide this type of support or advice. In order to safeguard your career, you need to have professional protection alongside state indemnity. That's where we come in.

We're at the end of the phone whenever you need us and can help with a wide range of situations where you face professional scrutiny. This includes complaints, disciplinary proceedings, coroner's inquests, police matters and GMC investigations. In addition to this, our medicolegal advice line provides assistance on a wide range of medicolegal and ethical matters that clinicians face on a daily basis.

Our expertise means we can put your welfare first. We are best placed to provide emotional support, anticipate challenges, help you explain your actions and demonstrate insight, all of which can all lead to better outcomes.

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