GMC investigations – what to do if your case has been referred to an MPTS Fitness to Practise Panel

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GMC investigations – what to do if your case has been referred to an MPTS Fitness to Practise Panel

Doctors of all disciplines, whether that’s primary care, secondary care, private healthcare or anything in between must adhere to the guidelines, principles and procedures set out in Good Medical Practice, Fitness to Practise Rules and the Medical Act 1983 (as amended).

All doctors, upon completion of training must be registered with, and hold a licence to practise, granted by the GMC.   

The GMC is responsible for ensuring that doctors maintain and promote the standards of the medical profession in the UK and uphold public confidence in the profession. They provide clear guidelines for this and have developed four pillars of good practice that all doctors must follow. These pillars are:

  • Doctors must be knowledgeable about their chosen area of expertise and demonstrate skill and competent performance in their area of medicine
  • They must maintain trust and confidentiality with their patients 
  • They must operate the highest standards of safety and quality at all time 
  • They must display communication, partnership and teamwork 

If a doctor’s practice falls below any of these 4 standards, they could face a hearing at the Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service (MPTS). In this situation, securing the services of a skilled MPTS defence lawyer would be the best way to defend yourself to secure the best possible outcome.

What does the medical practitioner tribunal service do?

In short, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service organises and adjudicates on hearings where the Tribunal members make independent decisions on whether or not a doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired and as such, whether that doctor is fit to practise medicine.  

The GMC investigates allegations made about individual doctors where he/she has allegedly fallen below the requisite standards.  The MPTS is the tribunal service that adjudicates on cases brought by the GMC against doctors and makes decisions in relation to the allegations being made and whether they find them proved or not, in relation to whether as a result of the allegations found proved, the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired and if so, what sanction needs to be determined. 

The Medical Act 1983 and the Fitness to Practice Rules 2004 set out the role of the GMC and the procedures followed during a GMC investigation and at an MPTS Fitness to Practise Panel in more detail.   

If you find you are facing an MPTS Fitness to Practise Panel hearing, the best way to present your defence is by securing the services of a professional and experienced MPTS lawyer. Burton Copeland can help you. Contact us to find out more.

What happens if you fall below the standards set out by the GMC?

All doctors, no matter what rank or speciality, must adhere to the GMC guidelines. There is no exception to this rule and any doctor who falls below the required standards set out by the GMC can be investigated and may ultimately face an MPTS Fitness to Practise Panel hearing. 

Following the initial investigation and prior to the issues reaching the MPTS Fitness to Practise Panel, the GMC themselves may impose sanctions on a doctor and they have the following powers:

  • They can impose warnings on a doctor’s registration 
  • They can suggest undertakings to be imposed on a doctor’s registration which then need to be agreed by the doctor

However, if either a warning or undertakings are not deemed to be sufficient, the GMC can refer the doctor to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service. Depending on the seriousness and nature of the accusations brought against a doctor, the MPTS has the power to restrict, suspend, or erase a doctor’s name from the medical register.

As you can see a Fitness to Practise Panel hearing before the MPTS is not something that should be taken lightly. The most severe outcome is a doctor losing their license to practice medicine with their name being removed from the medical register. That in itself will have devastating consequences for a doctor, both financial and personal. 

If you are a doctor facing either a GMC investigation or a hearing at the MPTS Fitness to Practise Panel, securing the services of one of Burton Copeland’s MPTS defence lawyers will ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.   

What should I do if I receive notification that I am being investigated by the GMC?

If a complaint is made against you to the GMC, it is important to secure the services of one of our GMC defence lawyers who will be able to advise you on the tactical decision as to whether or not any response will assist your case.  Failing to comply with the GMC will not resolve the issue but may in fact, make the situation worse. How to comply with the GMC is the all important question.  Failing to comply with the requirements of the GMC can result in your license to practise medicine, ultimately being revoked. 

It’s critical therefore that any investigation and requests for information are treated seriously and responded to promptly.  And whilst the matter is ongoing, in order to achieve the best possible outcome, you should seek advice and help from experienced MPTS lawyers.   

Burton Copeland can help

Our team assists doctors facing investigation, including those employed by a hospital and General Practitioners. In addition, we regularly represent those doctors accused of committing criminal offences and those asked to give evidence at Coroner’s Inquests. We also assist GP Practices and GPs in relation to NHS England investigations, Performer’s List proceedings and First Tier Tribunal Appeals.

No matter what the circumstances of your case, we can assist you by:

  • Advising you on the relevant legislation
  • Preparing responses on your behalf
  • Providing guidance on the acceptance of warnings and undertakings
  • Advising on whether to request an Investigation Committee hearing
  • Preparing for and providing representation at all MPTS hearings
  • Appealing to the High Court following MPTS decisions
  • Advising you in relation to NHS England investigations
  • Preparing for and representing you at Performance Advisory Group hearings of NHS England
  • Advising you on your evidence, including witness statements, provided to the Coroner’s Court
  • Representing you at the police station
  • Preparing you for and defending you in the criminal courts
  • Advising on and preparing for Disclosure and Barring list representations
  • Assisting overseas qualified doctors and UK medical graduates to obtain GMC registration in the UK

If you are a doctor facing an investigation into your fitness to practise or a MPTS Fitness to Practise Panel hearing, or if you need advice on any of the other areas outlined above, please ensure that you speak to one of our professional discipline solicitors in Manchester today by calling 0161 827 9500, or fill in our contact form and we will get back to you. 

If you need to contact us out of office hours, you can call 0161 832 7834. You can be assured that your case will be handled sensitively and confidentially.

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