Yes, but it depends what the offence was and whether the underlying facts are such your fitness to practice is impaired.

The issue the GMC (and/or MPTS) will consider in relation to a conviction or a caution are the facts in relation to the offence and whether it follows from those facts a doctor’s fitness to practice is impaired.  In conviction and caution cases the same overarching considerations in relation to impairment apply and the accordingly the questions normally arising are whether a doctor –

  1. ‘Has in the past acted and/or is liable in the future to act so as to put a patient or patients at unwarranted risk of harm; and/or
  2. Has in the past brought and/or is liable in the future to bring the medical profession into disrepute; and/or
  3. Has in the past breached and/or is liable in the future to breach one of the fundamental tenets of the medical profession; […]’

This is the test for impairment followed by Tribunals as set out in the Fifth Shipman Reeport by Dame Janet Smith and adopted by the High Court in CHRE v NMC and Paula Grant [2011] EWHC 927 (Admin).  The GMC and/or MPTS will carefully examine the facts surrounding the offence and consider them in light of these questions.  Domain 4 of Good Medical Practice (Maintaining Trust) includes provisions that are almost always applicable to Conviction and Caution cases.  If the facts are such that there is no impairment then, assuming no other live fitness to practice impediments, a doctor may continue to practice.

Where fitness to practice is impaired the question of sanction follows.  A conviction or caution giving rise to impairment does not immediately mean erasure from the register.  The GMC or MPTS will look at the aggravating and mitigating factors.  Each case turns on its own facts but some common factors are seriousness of breach of GMP, isolated incident or calculated, risk to patients, insight and remediation, work or personal circumstances, early admissions and likelihood of repetition.

By way of illustration below is an overview of a few previous cases in relation to criminal matters.

A doctor was convicted of committing fraud in relation to making false representations for prescriptions for himself.  A finding of dishonesty was also made by the Tribunal and the doctor showed remorse for what he had done.   The doctor in this case showed some insight and remediation but there was a concern there was not full remediation and there remained a risk of repetition.  The doctor was suspended for 12 months with a review hearing listed before expiry of the suspensions.  This was both to protect the public and allow the doctor to show insight – what remedial action he has taken and how he maintained his medical knowledge were questions to be answered at the review hearing.

A doctor was convicted in another country of a low level violence offence and possession of a small amount of cannabis more than 10 years ago.  Though it was not disclosed to the GMC, it was found that the facts did not prove impairment.  There was a plethora of other mitigating factors that warranted not making such a finding and neither was any Warning considered necessary. There was also some argument to be had over the period of time since a conviction renders it irrelevant.

A doctor was convicted of a drink driving offence and given a 6 month community order and disqualified for driving for 42 months.  There were three previous similar criminal convictions and cautions.  The doctor was a highly valued doctor and promptly self-reported.  Conditions were imposed for 2 years and to be reviewed at a review hearing.  In another drink driving conviction case where a doctor was convicted and disqualified for 15 months the doctor was suspended for 6 months.  There were previous driving convictions, there had been one MPTS hearing earlier in the doctor’s career but genuine remorse, insight and cooperation were mitigating factors warranting suspension where conditions would not be workable.

A doctor in two separate proceedings several years apart was convicted of more than 10 counts of numerous sexual offences.  Some of the convictions involved sexual offences in relation to patients.  The doctor was erased from the register.  Though some insight was shown the seriousness of the offences and maintaining public confidence led to the conclusion erasure was necessary.

A doctor who was convicted of several counts of possessing indecent images of children which spanned several years, offered an early guilty plea and self referred could not avoid erasure.  The breach of trust was so great a public trust would not be maintained by a lesser sanction.

In any case where a doctor is facing a GMC investigation or MPTS hearing following a conviction or caution it is important to ensure that full advice is taken on the implications.  We can provide advice on the important factors and legal implications in respect of criminal convictions on fitness to practice.