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Doctor's engagement at MPTS hearings linked to decisions

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A recent cross-sectional study conducted by the General Medical Council (GMC) has indicated that a doctor’s engagement in Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearings is more associated with the outcome, rather than the personal characteristics of a doctor. The results of this study have been published in the journal of BMC medicine.

The study was carried out from June 2012 to May 2017, looking at 1,046 doctors referred for regulatory proceedings at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (or MPT), within a population of 310,659 doctors registered during the period of the study.

The outcomes that were considered were as follows:

  • No impairment
  • Impairment
  • Suspension or
  • Erasure.

This meant that other factors or adjusted odds ratios needed to be considered. These were:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Qualified domestically or internationally
  • Area of practice (GP, specialist)
  • Initial source of referral
  • Allegation type
  • Attendance at outcome hearing and
  • Whether they were legally represented.

The GMC found, upon review of their evidence, that there was no link between the seriousness of outcomes and the age, race, sex, domestic/international qualification, or the area of practice, except for specialists. It was found that specialists tended to receive outcomes milder than suspension or erasure.

It relation to non-attendance and lack of legal representation, it was found that this consistently contributed to more serious outcomes. This was in addition to the nature of the allegation and the referral source. For example, allegations that related to concerns about performance resulted in less serious outcomes, whilst those of a conviction led to stricter sanctions being imposed.

The study also showed that MPTS decisions had been consistent since 2012.

The GMC’s chief executive, Charlie Massey, has stated that the GMC is now exploring more ways on how to encourage doctors to engage with the hearing process, given the strong link between doctors not attending or having no legal representation at tribunals, and the more serious outcomes.

If a doctor is referred to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal for a hearing, the MPTS has a range of support that the doctor can access, and tribunal staff are available to talk to the doctor at any time, with the aim of reducing the stress that doctors may encounter and to sign post to other useful support services.

If you are facing investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) as a result of a fitness to practice concern, our specialist lawyers have extensive experience of successfully defending doctors in fitness to practise proceedings brought by the GMC. We are a leading firm in this area and we pride ourselves on achieving the best possible results for our clients. For immediate advice from one of our specialists, call us now on 01616 966 229.