Yes, when the offences are those causing the erasure the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (“MPT”) will look at the underlying concerns as well as subsequent events.

Dr W was a GP who up until his convictions in 2003 was of good character and enjoyed a clean regulatory record.

In 2003 he was convicted of taking indecent images of a child (with a sentence of 6 months in prison), possession of a quantity of diamorphine (with a sentence of 2 months in prison) and possessing 193 indecent images of children (the majority were the lowest category 1 and he was given 4 months in prison).  He was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.  The facts giving rise to these offences occurred in 2003 when Dr W covertly placed a camera in a swimming baths changing room.  He went to some lengths to try and avoid detection by hoodwinking an older gentleman to go and collect his video recording equipment.  The drugs related to patients under his palliative care as a result of terminal illnesses.  There were ampoules and syringes at his home.

Dr W later committed less serious crimes.  In 2005 he was convicted of failing to notify his address, he gave evidence he did notify the relevant parties but was guilty for not formally doing so.  In 2008 he stole a bicycle wheel.  He believed the bike had been abandoned as it was damaged and had been chained for several months.  The wheel was to repair his bike.  A few years later he was convicted of a dishonesty offence in relation to claiming benefits in 2006.  His evidence was that this was inadvertent, arising from not properly completing a form to disclose money held in an account.

A separate difficulty faced by Dr W was that he had been out of medical practice for over 17 years at the time of his application to restore his name to the register.  He gave evidence that over the last 4 to 5 years he spent several hours a week reading the BMJ, The Pulse and BNF though he did not produce evidence of any record he kept of his study.

In determining restoration applications the MPT will examine the circumstances leading to the erasure.  They also review relevant subsequent matters, whether a doctor shows remorse and insight, their current medical knowledge, whether they pose a risk and whether restoration would damage pubic confidence.

In Dr W’s case the Tribunal refused restoration.  They were concerned he had not disclosed his later offending on his application and rejected his explanation he knew the GMC would obtain an up to date police check.  The MPT accepted he entered an early guilty plea in 2003, so sparing the victims having to give evidence, but noted the offences were among the most serious and it could not rule out reoffending completely.  In respect of the 2003 offences, despite the passage of so much time, the MPT stated the offence was so serious the public interest element remains engaged even now, it stated that the public would be shocked and concerned were Dr W allowed to resume practice and that that element outweighed the interests of the individual doctor.

Each case turns on its own facts and there are doctors who have been able to return to practice despite serious convictions.  Here, the seriousness of the offence was one factor and the long period of time involved was another consideration rendering restoration more difficult.  If you have fitness to practise concerns or you are considering restoration please contact us for specific advice on your case, there will be other factual and legal considerations which are more relevant to you than the generic principles discussed in Dr W’s case.