Our expert lawyers are experienced in defending doctors in GMC investigations. We understand how significant a GMC investigation is to a doctor and will work tirelessly to ensure that allegations are robustly defended. We have an excellent track record and are always happy to speak to doctors who are concerned about a GMC investigation, in strict confidence and without obligation.
What issues can a GMC investigation relate to?
A GMC investigation will examine a doctor’s fitness to practise and usually follows a complaint by NHS Trusts, other doctors, employers, members of the public, or the police. A GMC investigation examines if a doctor’s fitness to practise may be impaired due to:
- Poor performance;
- A criminal conviction or caution;
- Health; or
- A determination by another regulatory body.
How will I know I’m under a GMC investigation?
When starting a GMC investigation into a doctor’s fitness to practise, the GMC will write to the doctor, to notify them that a GMC investigation has commenced. The GMC will outline the nature of the GMC investigation and will invite comments from the doctor to be sent within 28 days. Under the GMC investigation rules this letter is called a Rule 4 letter.
Rule 4 letter in a GMC investigation
If you receive a Rule 4 letter from the GMC, you should contact us for urgent advice. A tactical decision will need to be made as to whether to respond to the GMC investigation at this early stage. If it is appropriate to reply, the content of the response needs to be prepared carefully. Any comment made at this stage in the GMC investigation will be compared with later submissions. Any inconsistencies will be detrimental to a doctor’s case.
At this stage in the GMC investigation, the GMC will not disclose the full facts of the allegation. Therefore there will be a later opportunity to respond, once the precise nature of the allegations and the evidence gathered in the GMC investigation is disclosed.
How long will a GMC investigation take?
The length of a GMC investigation varies. It can take several months, particularly in a complex clinical case.
Rule 7 Letter in a GMC investigation
Once the GMC investigation has been concluded, the GMC will write to the doctor disclosing specific allegations and their evidence. This provides the doctor with an opportunity to respond to the GMC’s investigation. Under the GMC investigation rules, this letter is called a Rule 7 letter.
If you have received a Rule 7 letter and are contemplating your response in a GMC investigation, please contact us for urgent advice.
Case Examiner’s Review in a GMC investigation
On receipt of a Rule 7 response, or when the time limit to respond expires, the Case Examiners will consider the allegations and decide how to progress the GMC investigation. At this stage, the Case Examiners may:
- Conclude the case with no further action;
- Issue a warning;
- Agree undertakings with the doctor;
- Refer the case to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) for a Fitness to Practise Panel Hearing to be listed.
Warnings as an outcome of a GMC investigation
At the conclusion of a GMC investigation, the GMC may issue a warning, if a doctor has significantly departed from the standards set out in Good Medical Practice, but their fitness to practise is not impaired. If a warning is offered, a doctor will need to decide if they wish to accept it as a resolution to the GMC investigation. If a doctor does not wish to accept a warning, they can ask to be referred to the GMC Investigation Committee.
If you have received an offer of a warning as an outcome of a GMC investigation, please contact us for urgent advice.
GMC Investigation Committee
If a doctor does not wish to accept a warning, for example they dispute the factual allegations, they can refer their case to the GMC Investigation Committee. The GMC Investigation Committee can hear evidence, make a factual finding and decide if a warning is appropriate, or if the case should be concluded with no action. In exceptional circumstances, a GMC Investigation Committee can refer a case to the Fitness to Practise Panel, if new evidence comes to light during the course of the hearing.
If you are considering requesting a GMC Investigation Committee to consider your case, or you already have a hearing listed before a GMC Investigation Committee, please contact us for independent legal advice.
Undertakings as an outcome of a GMC investigation
The Case Examiners can agree undertakings with a doctor as an outcome of a GMC investigation. An undertaking is a legally enforceable agreement between a doctor and the GMC, where a doctor agrees to take or refrain from specified action. An undertaking is regarded as a consensual disposal of a case, however, the ramifications of undertakings are serious and should not be entered into lightly during a GMC investigation.
If you have been asked by the GMC to consider undertakings or you think this may be a route worth considering, please contact us for expert GMC legal advice.
To find out more about how we can help you with the GMC use the menu above or the following links:
- Background to the GMC
- GMC Registration
- GMC and Trust Disciplinary Investigations
- GMC Interim Orders Panel
- GMC Fitness to Practise
- GMC and Criminal Convictions
- GMC Revalidation
- GMC Restoration
- GMC Appeals
- GMC and Inquests
If you face a GMC investigation please contact the MedicAssistanceScheme to speak to one of our qualified lawyers, in strict confidence and without obligation, by calling us today on 084 4804 4805, by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by requesting a call back using the link on the home page.