GMC lawyers - defence lawyers for doctors

Our specialist lawyers have extensive experience of successfully defending doctors in fitness to practise proceedings brought by the General Medical Council (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 specialist General Medical Council lawyers call 0203 816 9274.

GMC investigations

If you are facing investigation by the GMC it is vital that you seek specialist legal representation at the outset. Important tactical decisions need to be made at the outset of an investigation in order to protect your interests. Our lawyers have specialist experience of advising doctors during investigations and assisting with the preparation of formal responses, both at early stages and at the ‘Rule 7’ stage. Many of our cases are resolved during the course of an investigation, therefore avoiding a referral to a fitness to practise hearing. 

  • Professional Discipline & Fitness to Practise Lawyers

    Head of Regulatory Law Carl Johnson talks about the role his team take in professional discipline and fitness to practise issues. Carl discusses the sort of cases the team at Stephensons can handle, the possible outcomes of professional discipline investigations and why legal advice is vital.

    "This area of law involves cases which are often highly emotionally charged. For a professional to be under scrutiny by their regulator or professional body that can create a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety and put clients under a lot of pressure. A specialist lawyer provides a much needed barrier between the professional and their regulator and can help absorb some of that pressure and stress, and that's an important service that we provide to our clients." - Carl Johnson

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Why choose our GMC solicitors?

We are recommended in the Legal 500 in the field of professional disciplinary work. We have a network of offices, including London and Manchester, allowing us to act for clients nationwide. In addition to acting for clients across the UK, we regularly act for clients who are based overseas but are registered with the GMC. We have experience of acting for doctors working within the NHS and those working in private practice.

Our lawyers understand the needs and anxieties of doctors facing serious allegations and whose practice and livelihood is at risk. We recognise the need for urgent, specialist advice from lawyers with genuine experience of defending similar cases. For examples of our recent work in this area, please visit our GMC case studies page.

GMC fitness to practise proceedings

Our lawyers have experience of representing Doctors in relation to the full range of regulatory matters. Our experience includes the following:

  • Advising Doctors in relation to NHSE investigations, including Performance Assessment Group (PAG) meetings and Performers List Decision Panel (PLDP) hearings.
  • Assisting Doctors with notifications to the GMC regarding reportable events
  • Providing specialist advice during the course of GMC investigations
  • Advising on requests by the GMC for disclosure of records and other information
  • Attendance at meetings at the GMC’s offices
  • Preparation of responses to Rule 7 letters
  • Advising on the suitability of warnings and undertakings
  • Representation at Interim Orders Tribunal hearings before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS)
  • Advising on GMC applications to the High Court to extend interim orders
  • Representation at fitness to practise hearings before the MPTS
  • Appeals to the High Court against decisions of the MPTS
  • Applications for restoration to the Medical Register following erasure

Our experience

Our expertise in this area is wide-ranging and we regularly deal with the full range of fitness to practise issues, including:

  • Serious clinical incidents
  • Surgical errors
  • Prescribing errors
  • Diagnostic errors
  • Poor treatment management
  • Cosmetic and other elective procedures
  • Financial misconduct, both within and outside of clinical practice
  • Dishonesty
  • Sexually-motivated misconduct, relating to both colleagues and patients
  • Inappropriate use of social media
  • Drug & alcohol dependency
  • Poor communication/linguistic skills
  • Impairment on the basis of mental health
  • Breaches of agreed undertakings
  • Breaches of interim conditions of practise
  • Criminal convictions

In addition to our experience of dealing with GMC investigations and fitness to practise proceedings, we also have experience of assisting clients with issues relating to applications for registration, specialist registration and sub-speciality recognition.

It is important that you seek specialist advice before responding to correspondence from the GMC. Any response which is made needs to be carefully considered in order to protect your interests and to avoid prejudicing your defence. For a confidential, no-obligation discussion regarding your case, contact one of our specialist GMC lawyers on 0203 816 9274. Alternatively please complete our online enquiry form and a member of the professional discipline team will contact you as a matter of urgency.

GMC fitness to practise FAQs

When will the GMC investigate?

The GMC will investigate a doctor if their fitness to practice is in question or if a doctor has been referred to the GMC by an organisation, such as the NHS, the police or a patient. A doctor’s fitness to practice may be called into question for the following reasons:

  • Misconduct (this can include both misconduct in a doctor’s professional life and personal life)
  • Poor performance
  • Conviction or caution for a criminal offence
  • Physical ill-health
  • Poor mental health
  • Lack of necessary knowledge of English to practise medicine safely in the UK

How does the GMC investigate?

If the GMC has decided to investigate a doctor, they will be notified by letter and invited to comment. Commenting on the matter is not compulsory and we recommend that you seek legal advice before you do so. Generally, commenting does show a willingness to corporate, which can help your case. Once the doctor has been notified and invited to comment, the GMC will gather evidence from key parties, which may include:

  • The complainant/referrer
  • The doctor’s employer
  • The police and/or courts
  • Witnesses
  • Where appropriate, from the doctor

Depending on the nature of the complaint, a doctor may be invited to take part in a performance assessment or a health assessment. If the GMC believe there is an immediate risk to the public, it has the power to apply for an order restricting or suspending the doctor while the investigation is taking place. Once the GMC has completed its investigation the matter will be referred to case examiners who will dispose of the case in one of the following ways:

  • Issue a warning
  • Agree undertakings with the doctor
  • Refer the matter to a fitness to practise hearing before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service
  • Take no further action
  • Issue advice to the doctor

What should I do if I have been referred to the GMC?

If you have been referred to the GMC then we recommend that you seek advice from a specialist solicitor. You should engage fully with the proceedings. If you are made the subject of an interim order you should ensure that this is strictly complied with whilst the case is ongoing. Under no circumstances should you ignore correspondence from the GMC and/or MPTS.   

What happens at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPTS)?

At the MPTS, both parties will be able to give evidence and from this, the tribunal will determine if the facts of the allegation have been proved. If allegations are admitted or found proven, the tribunal will then determine whether or not the doctor's fitness to practice is impaired. If they have found the doctor’s fitness to practice is not currently impaired, then they can opt to either take no further action or issue a warning.

If the fitness to practice has been found to be impaired, then they may consider sanctioning the doctor in question. The type of sanctions available include:  

  • Accept undertakings which have been agreed between the doctor and the GMC
  • Impose conditions on the doctor’s registration
  • Suspend the doctor’s registration
  • Erase the doctor from the medical register

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