The legislation that will enable the removal of the GMC’s power to appeal Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) decisions must be brought forward quickly and a clear timeframe for change should be set out by Government, the Medical Protection Society (MPS) told the Westminster Health Forum today.
The removal of the GMC’s right of appeal was one of many recommendations made by Sir Norman Williams as part of a rapid review into how Gross Negligence Manslaughter is applied in healthcare, and was accepted by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care earlier this month. The review followed concerns around the case involving Dr Bawa-Garba where the GMC appealed the MPTS’ decision to suspend her from the medical register for two years and sought agreement from the High Court to instead erase her.
The decision to strip the GMC of its power to appeal MPTS rulings was welcomed by MPS which has, since the power was granted in 2015, warned that it is an unjust and unnecessary duplication of powers for both the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) and GMC to have a right of appeal. The GMC is the only professional healthcare regulator with this power.
But MPS’ Medical Director Rob Hendry said the legislative process required to enable the change – repealing section 40A of the 1983 Medical Act 1983 – could be lengthy and urged the Government to bring legislation forward swiftly.
Speaking at the Westminster Health Forum event on the next steps for professional healthcare regulation, he said: “I am delighted that the Government has accepted the need to remove the GMC’s power to appeal decisions by the MPTS. We have consistently argued that the GMC should not have this power.
“The PSA has a near identical power, and regardless of whether the GMC uses its power of appeal correctly or not, in an era where we are looking to make the allocation of regulatory powers more efficient, such duplication is highly unsatisfactory.
“The impact on the doctor at the centre of a case is significant. The regulatory process is complex, lengthy and extremely stressful, and doctors face the prospect of a prolonged period of stress and uncertainty.
“It also creates an unwelcome perception for many in the profession, that the MPTS is too closely linked to the GMC, or in some ways beholden to it. One of the driving rationales in creating the MPTS in the first place was to separate out the investigation and adjudication elements of the Fitness to Practise process.
“When the GMC no longer has the power of appeal, doctors appearing before the MPTS will have greater confidence that the tribunal and the GMC are moving further towards being separate, independent entities.
“This is good news, but the legislation required to enable the removal of this power will take time. We are calling on the Government to bring it forward quickly and outline its timescale for change, so the profession has certainty in its commitment.”
Notes to editors:
The Westminster Health Forum event titled ‘The next steps for professional healthcare regulation’ took place on 21 June 2018.
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The Medical Protection Society (“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.
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