The Medical Act 1983 sets out the way that the way that the GMC regulates doctors.

To practice medicine in the UK a doctor must be named on the medical register.  The GMC maintain the register both deciding who to admit and also have a role is erasing doctors from the register.  The register exists to enable anyone to check a doctor’s details including any fitness to practice history.  It includes information about a doctor’s training.  It is illegal to practice medicine or hold oneself out as registered if they are not on the register.  The public can report such matters to the GMC who may give notice of the breach and take action or report anyone breaching these rules to the police.

Good Medical Practice is the main text the GMC publish which sets out the standards expected of doctors.  It is divided into four ‘Domains’ which address knowledge skills and performance, safety and quality, communication partnership and teamwork and finally maintaining trust.  This will commonly be referred to when addressing the regulation of doctors and considering fitness to practice.

The GMC also has a role regulating the quality of doctors’ training.  This includes a role in curricula and approving training settings.

One of the most important processes affecting every doctor, and of which they will be well aware, is revalidation.  This appraisal process is something every doctor must do every five years.  In most cases a doctor will complete revalidation with their responsible officer or a suitable person.  If they do not do so the GMC may become involved and require a doctor to sit a written knowledge test.

Where a report is made to the GMC which raises concerns about a doctor’s fitness to practice the GMC will consider an investigation into the doctor.  The GMC receive approximately 8,500 reports a year but the vast majority of these are dismissed at the very early stages of the preliminary enquiry stage.  Where an investigation continues the GMC have a range of sanctions they can impose themselves which include a Warning or they may accept an undertaking from a doctor.  The GMC may also refer a doctor for a Tribunal hearing where the allegation is of such sufficient seriousness that the doctor may be suspended from practice or have their name erased from the register.

If you are a doctor and a concern has been raised by the GMC about your fitness to practice we can speak with you and give you advice on how to best to deal with the any allegation being investigated.