Medical Protection has called on Government to publish a timeline for legislative change to remove the General Medical Council’s (GMC) right of appeal. This follows independent legal advice by Sir Robert Francis QC which confirms that the GMC cannot unilaterally stop appealing cases until the necessary legislative changes have been made to the Medical Act.
Commenting on the publication of the advice Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at Medical Protection, said:
“We welcome the GMC’s decision to explore whether it would be possible for them to stop appealing cases while we wait for the Government to introduce new legislation. It is now high-time that the Government acts on our call to change and that they publish a timeline for when they plan to introduce these changes sooner rather than later.
“Since the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) was established, we have argued that the GMC should not have the power to appeal decisions by the tribunal service. This power is both detrimental to the interests of healthcare professionals and unnecessary – as the Professional Standards Authority already has the authority to appeal decisions made by the MPTS and also by all other healthcare professional regulators.
“The removal of the GMC’s right to appeal was a central recommendation in our submission to the Williams Review. Doctors appearing before the MPTS would have cause for greater confidence that the tribunal and the GMC are moving further towards being separate, independent entities. This is good news for the profession.
“We are urging the Government to make wider changes to law that underpins the GMC’s work at the same time. Its current powers were framed over 30 years ago – when a very small number of complaints were received and the GMC could investigate each and every one. The GMC now receives around 8,000 complaints a year but very few of these come close to the threshold of serious concern that the GMC was set up to address. The GMC needs to be given more discretion to not take forward investigations in cases where the allegations clearly do not require action.”
“It has been over six months since Sir Norman Williams’ review was published and nearly a year since the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation on proposals for improving regulation. A clear timetable for change is needed.”
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About Medical Protection
Medical Protection is a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”) is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support together with the right to request indemnity for complaints or claims arising from professional practice.
Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.
Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.
MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.