MPTS Hearings

MPTS Fitness to Practise Hearings

You may find yourself facing the prospect of the MPTS hearing because at the end of the GMC’s investigation [See GMC Investigation Outcomes] the GMC believe the allegation is such that your fitness to practise is impaired, this can be proved and the likely sanction is one of the more serious ones beyond an undertaking or a warning that they can impose.

Upon referral to the MPTS they will make arrangements for a Tribunal to hear your case. Before the hearing directions will be given either directly by the MPTS or at case management hearings.

The purpose of these hearings is to ensure that all preparations are made for the substantive hearing, it is likely to cover such matters as preparing the bundle, whether there are any preliminary legal arguments, skeleton arguments, witness statements, whether there are any vulnerable witnesses, mode of hearing if so and the required length of the main hearing and any unavailability to attend.

These interim hearings are relatively short and will usually be by phone and attended by a GMC representative. It is important the directions are complied with because a Tribunal may award costs against you, refuse to admit your evidence or draw an adverse inference by the failure.

  • Where we are acting for you we will attend any case management hearings and take care of the preparations for the hearing with you.
  • It is important that your case is carefully prepared and we will review with you the crucial issue of the evidence you wish to adduce in support of your case. As well as any witness statements which usually go to the facts, it is often very beneficial to gather testimonials.
  • Testimonials are statements about your character from your colleagues, other professionals, patients or other people who can confirm your fitness to practise.

  • It is important the process is followed to verify the testimonials. Where we are not acting for you the GMC can verify testimonials but they request at least eight weeks, where we are acting for you we can ensure verification more flexibly.
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The hearing itself will be listed with at least 28 days notice to you and the final form of the allegations will have been sent to you by the GMC. The hearing will take place before a Tribunal of three members comprising a legal qualified chair, a medically qualified member and a lay member. A clerk will record the hearing and assist with arrangements.

The GMC will usually be represented by a barrister. Where you have instructed us, we will attend with you and either represent you ourselves or instruct a barrister to attend to represent you.

If there are any preliminary issues they are dealt with first. For example any legal arguments or final amendments to the allegations.

There are occasions where these issues alone take a day or more to deal with. The first stage is the facts stage, in the ordinary run of cases the GMC will go first calling their witnesses who will be sworn in and confirm their statements.

They will then be cross-examined on your behalf with the purpose of testing their evidence and as required disputing facts, highlighting weaknesses or putting to them your version of events.

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If at the end of the GMC’s case the evidence is so poor that the allegations appear unprovable you can make an application to discontinue the case under Rule 17(2)(g). In other forums you may have heard of this as a submission of ‘no case to answer’.

If the case does proceed then you will adduce your evidence and any witnesses in support of your defence will be called. You and they will likely be cross-examined by the GMC barrister. If the facts in the allegation are not proven the case will conclude.

The second stage is the impairment stage and considers whether from the proven facts they show your fitness to practise is impaired.

At this stage evidence can be produced regarding any insights or remediation you have obtained or undertaken that addresses the concerns in the allegation/s.

  • It may also be possible to argue that even the proven facts do not amount to impairment. For example, let us suppose an allegation concerned a data breach, you may be able to show you have insight into your error, the risks it poses and you have undertaken patient confidentiality and data protection courses such that any repeat breach is highly unlikely.
  • Testimonials might also support your otherwise impeccable practising standards. This could give good grounds for arguing there is no impairment or in the alternative supporting a lesser sanction.

  • If the Tribunal determines your fitness to practise is impaired the next stage is the sanction stage. Here the Tribunal must consider what sanction if any is appropriate and they have to be considered in order of increasing severity.

  • Unlike the GMC the Tribunal has the power to impose any sanctions from the full range of sanctions mandated by the Medical Act 1983. Please see the sanctions pages of our website for the more detailed explanations of sanctions.
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At the end of the hearing the Tribunal will give the reasons for its decisions and they will provide a written judgement of its reasons. Where there were applications determined within the hearing you will also receive written reasons for those decisions. The tribunal’s judgement will be published on the MPTS website for twelve months, it will not do so if it is based on your health. Similarly where there is sensitive information in the determination it may be redacted.

Please note that this is an overview only of the salient issues relating to hearings and cannot be relied upon as advice on your case. For full advice on procedure and legal issues please contact us directly and we will be pleased to assist you.