If the GMC considers that a doctor’s registration should be restricted, whilst allegations remain unresolved, they will refer a doctor for an Interim Orders Tribunal hearing, which will be carried out by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).
Our GMC defence lawyers have an excellent track record of securing good results for doctors before an MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal. We are often able to prevent an interim suspension order from being imposed, even in difficult cases.
We understand the importance to a doctor of being able to continue to work throughout a GMC investigation and therefore getting a good result before an Interim Orders Panel.
Powers of an MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal
An MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal will not make a factual finding in relation to the substantive allegations against a doctor, as this is not the purpose of an Interim Orders Tribunal Hearing. The Tribunal is there to conduct a risk assessment about a doctor continuing to practise, whilst the GMC investigates the doctor’s fitness to practise. A GMC Interim Orders Panel has the power to make the following decisions:
An MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal has the power to impose the following orders:
• No order;
• Interim conditions;
• Interim Suspension.
An MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal should only impose restrictions on a doctor’s registration:
• To protect members of the public;
• If it is in the public interest;
• If it is in the interests of the doctor.
MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal Review Hearings
Where an MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal has previously made an order of interim suspension or interim conditions, a Tribunal Review Hearing must review the order every 6 months.
Even if a doctor is under an interim suspension order, it is still sensible to obtain legal advice coming up to the review hearing and representation at the review hearing. Our GMC defence lawyers have experience of persuading the Interim Orders Panel at review hearings that continuing with an interim suspension order is disproportionate and that they should therefore impose workable interim conditions instead, to enable the doctor to return to work.
Similarly, if a doctor is under interim conditions which have not proven to be workable, we have had success in persuading the Interim Orders Panel to change these, to ensure that the doctor and their employer can work with the conditions.
Interim Orders Panel extension applications to the High Court
An MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal can only impose an interim suspension or conditions order against a doctor for a maximum of 18 months without obtaining permission from the High Court to extend the interim order beyond this time.
Whilst most doctors decide to consent to the GMC’s application to extend their interim order beyond 18 months, it is possible, in the right circumstances, to successfully oppose the GMC’s application for an extension; particularly where there have been significant delays with the GMC’s investigation.
What factors will the Tribunal take into consideration?
An MPTS Tribunal will take into consideration factors such as the seriousness of the allegations, the potential damage to the public’s confidence in the medical profession, whether any risks can be appropriately managed, as well as the doctor’s previous record.
Types of allegations which the GMC may refer to an MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal
The GMC may refer a doctor to an MPTS Tribunal in relation to any allegation. However, such a referral is likely where an allegation relates to:
• A series of failures to provide a proper standard of care or one particularly serious failure;
• A lack of basic medical knowledge or skills;
• Serious criminal allegations; and
• Breaches of conditions or undertakings.