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August’s Medical Law News

GMC reveals Bawa-Garba details, pharmacy inspections to be made public & erasure for a student optometrist

Each month, the team at Medic Assistance Scheme finds articles and stories from the past few weeks that will help medical practitioners to stay on top of fitness to practise trends in their profession. If you have concerns relating to anything you’ve read on our website, contact us today.

GMC publishes legal advice it received in Bawa-Garba case

Sources: Pulse Today (05/08/2019), GP Online (06/08/2019), The Times (07/08/2019)

The GMC has, for the first time, published the legal advice it received regarding the appeal made in the Bawa-Garba case, with the aim of striking Dr. Bawa-Garba off the Register. The Information Commissioner had ordered that, due to the exceptional degree of public interest, the advice should be published under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents show that the decision to appeal stemmed from a desire to protect the public interest and the reputation of the profession.

The regulator attempted to overturn the decision to impose a 12-month suspension on Dr. Bawa-Garba, instead arguing that her conviction of manslaughter by gross negligence for the death of six-year-old Jack Adcock warranted the stronger sanction of being erased from the Register. The appeal was successful and Dr. Bawa-Garba was erased, though her subsequent appeal led to her being reinstated to the Register.

Our take

The Bawa-Garba case has proven particularly interesting throughout its duration, and the publication of this advice is no exception. Following the GMC’s decision to appeal the case, there was outrage and concern from the medical profession that the GMC was able to challenge decisions made by the MPTS. As a result, the government is pushing ahead with legislation meaning that the GMC will no longer be allowed to appeal decisions made by the MPTS.

This is the most significant outcome of the case, and it is something which should give registrants facing fitness to practise investigations peace of mind that once their case has been resolved with an appropriate outcome, the regulating body will not be able to press for a stricter sanction. This does not affect the registrant’s right to appeal for a lesser sanction. If you are considering launching an appeal yourself, please do get in touch with our team for expert legal advice.

Pharmacy inspections to be made public for 5 years on GPhC website

The inspection reports and outcomes for all pharmacies are to be made available on a dedicated website and will be visible for 5 years, according to an update to the GPhC’s publication and disclosure policy. It was announced in April this year that the inspection model would undergo changes to become more “intelligence-led” and include unannounced visits. This follow-up announcement outlines details about the public accessibility of the reports from these visits.

The GPhC has stated that the site is likely to go live in early September 2019, and that each pharmacy will have its own dedicated page containing an evidence report, an improvement action plan, and links to previous reports. No commercially sensitive information or information that could jeopardise any GPhC or third party investigations will be published, unless the GPhC feels it “appropriate”. The site will also showcase examples of good practice as a learning resource for pharmacies around the UK.

Our take

Following the previously announced changes to the pharmacy inspection process, this latest announcement of publicly visible records is an interesting step for the profession. Greater transparency and accessibility of important information is vital for maintaining public confidence and trust in pharmacists, but we understand why pharmacists will inevitably be concerned about such publication.

Pharmacists should take reassurance in the statement that information sensitive to the business will not be publicised, and this is further confirmation that the move is designed to benefit patients and not to penalise pharmacists. It does provide an additional layer of accountability and exposure.. If you are concerned about any of these changes and want any advice, please feel free to contact our team.

Student optometrist erased from GOC register

Sources: Optometry Today, Optician Online (6/8/19)

West Yorkshire-based optometry student Talha Daji has been erased from the GOC register, following a conviction of assault by beating. Mr. Daji was convicted of assaulting a fellow resident of his university halls of residence whilst also using derogatory and homophobic language. This use of homophobic language was deemed to have aggravated the assault. Mr. Daji self-referred to the GOC after being charged with the offence, which he was convicted of in September 2016.

When the GOC contacted him in March 2019, Mr. Daji stated he no longer wished to pursue optometry as a career and was now studying accounting, and would therefore not attend his hearing. The fitness to practise committee found that Mr. Daji expressed no remorse and had made no effort to demonstrate that there would be no repetition of such an incident in the future. Therefore to preserve public confidence in the profession and the Council as a regulator, the committee found Mr. Daji’s fitness to undertake training as an optometrist to be impaired and determined the appropriate sanction to be erasure from the Register.

Our take

Mr. Daji’s case is a good example of the importance of responsible and professional behaviour, regardless of the stage of your career as a healthcare professional. Although Mr. Daji expressed that he does not wish to continue in the optometry profession, the Committee’s response reinforces the importance of remorse and remediation for applicants who do wish to continue with their career.

The GOC outlined that the lack of insight and remorse was “fundamentally incompatible” with continuing registration , demonstrating how crucial it is for registrants facing an investigation to take proactive steps to reassure the Committee of their regret and actions to ensure no such incident will occur in the future. Due to his actions during the assault and subsequent lack of actions during the investigation process, the GOC felt they had no alternative but to erase him from the Register to protect the integrity of the profession.

Related services

The Medic Assistance Scheme’s lawyers can help medical professionals in many of the areas referred to in these news topics. See below for the services that relate to August’s stories:

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