On 31st January 2015, the GMC was granted the power to appeal a decision made by the MPTS (Medical Practioners Tribunal Service) before the High Court. These new powers mean that it is not only doctors who can appeal unfavourable MPTS decisions.
If, in the course of a GMC investigation, the regulatory body determines that they have sufficient concerns about a doctor’s fitness to practise to warrant further action, the doctor is referred to an MPTS fitness to practise panel hearing. The MPTS has been around since 2012 and was created to be an investigative body with independence from the General Medical Council.
The MPTS can choose between a variety of different sanctions, ranging from taking no further action to erasing the doctor from the GMC’s register. A doctor who receives the severest sanction will be unable to practise in the UK for as long as they are erased.
Doctors have always been able to appeal GMC or MPTS decisions before the High Court. If they felt that their actions didn’t warrant the regulatory body’s sanction, they were able to appeal that decision, providing they announced their intention to do so within 28 days. However, the GMC has heretofore been unable to appeal MPTS decisions if they feel the sanctions were too lenient. Instead, only the PSA (Professional Standards Agency) could make an appeal.
The GMC’s new power comes from an amendment to the Medical Act and is the result of a long period of lobbying. The GMC wanted the right to appeal specifically to pursue cases where they feel the MPTS decision doesn’t sufficiently protect the public.
This was not the only significant change to come out of the revised Medical Act. The MPTS can now award costs if either party in an investigation is deemed to have acted unreasonably or has failed to comply with directions. Time will tell how often this is used against the GMC rather than individual medical professionals.
The MedicAssistanceScheme is here to help doctors who find themselves the subject of a GMC investigation or MPTS Fitness to Practise hearing. We can also help if you wish to lodge your own High Court appeal against a decision.