Fitness to Practice1
GMC Investigations

Fitness to Practise

It is not common that lack of, or misapplication of, medical knowledge causes GMC investigation. Most issues relate to how doctors practise. Matters might include issues relating to how you deal with a patient, not listening or paying proper attention, bullying trainees, misconduct relating to poor behaviour and convictions, cautions or adverse other regulator decision. In respect of criminal and serious regulatory matters the GMC will refer you to the MPTS.

The GMC receives around 8,500 complaints a year, the majority come from members of the public though some come from other professionals. There are number of decisions the GMC can take and no action is taken in respect of the majority of complaints.

  • On other occasions comments are passed to your employer or responsible officer, some close at the provisional enquiry stage. At the provisional enquiry stage the majority are closed. The more serious matters lead to an investigation.
  • The test the GMC apply to decide whether to investigate is whether a doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired. Section 35C(2) of the Medical Act 1983 states that fitness to practise can be impaired by – misconduct, deficient professional performance, criminal conviction or caution, adverse physical or mental health, insufficient English language knowledge or another regulatory body decision.

  • One off minor mistakes are unlikely to trigger an investigation but serious or persistent failures may. Some examples of impaired fitness to practise from MPTS decisions include repeatedly not taking a patient history and keeping proper records, abusing a patient’s trust and dishonestly writing prescriptions.

  • A recent example of a doctor not being impaired despite having a number of patient records in his car without the hospital’s permission and his car being stolen with risks of breach of confidentiality,  rested on the doctor showing immediate cooperation, insight, remediation and low risk of repetition.

  • The GMC also indicate speeding and traffic light offences do not meet their threshold, likewise 6 month delays providing medical reports, private medical costs and non-clinical rudeness. If an allegation is more than 5 years old the GMC will also generally not investigate unless it is in the public interest to do so.