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Proposed changes to General Medical Council's good medical practice guidance

View profile for Martin Haisley
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Concern for the future of GP care provision

‘Good medical practice’ is a core document issued by the General Medical Council (GMC) which outlines the standards expected of doctors who are registered with the GMC. 

Between 27 April 2022 and 20 July 2022, the GMC ran a public consultation on a draft, updated version of ‘good medical practice’. Amongst a number of changes posed in the revised document is a proposal to remove the ‘threshold’ statement for when the GMC would launch a fitness to practise investigation.

At present, 'good medical practice’ includes the following:

Only serious or persistent failure to follow our guidance that poses a risk to patient safety or public trust in doctors will put your registration at risk.’

The GMC propose to replace the ‘only serious or persistent failure to follow this guidance will put your registration at risk’ portion of the document with:

‘We will take action where there is a risk to patients, or public confidence in medical professionals, or where it is necessary to maintain professional standards.’

The GMC have also given a fuller account of the range of factors considered by the GMC decision makers when they are assessing the issue of risk. The revised version now includes:

‘When assessing the overall risk to public protection posed by a medical professional, through our fitness to practise process we consider the extent of their failure to meet the professional standards, factors that increase and decrease the risk to public protection (including the context in which they were working), and how they responded to the concerns raised.’

It is clear that the proposed amendments are much broader than the original threshold statement. This could lead to additional cases being investigated, which do not currently meet the threshold for investigation.

Professional disciplinary proceedings can have serious implications on professional status, reputation and livelihood. A change in policy which does not appropriately define what type of allegations should be investigated could indeed open the floodgates to further investigations, causing significant anxieties for those under investigation.

Our specialist GMC lawyers have extensive experience of successfully defending doctors in fitness to practise proceedings brought by the GMC and we can advise you throughout the entirety of a GMC investigation from initial referral right through to a fitness to practice hearing. For immediate advice from one of our specialist GMC lawyers, please call 0161 696 6250