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Proposed changes to GP sanctions criticised

20 November 2014

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Stricter sanctions for GPs proposed from the family doctors’ regulator have been criticised by the Medical Protection Society (MPS).

The General Medical Council’s (GMC) have suggested that changes to the current indicative sanctions guidanceinclude, not being influenced by the personal implications of sanctions on doctors, taking action in all cases where a doctors fitness to practice is impaired and imposing serious sanctions where GP’s fail to work collaboratively.  

The MPS believes these changes place impositions on the professional and personal lives of doctors and that they will also restrict the powers available to the Panels of Medical Practitioners Tribunals Service to use their judgment on a case-by-case basis.

Dr Nick Clements, Head of Medical Services at MPS, said: “I think that it is misjudged to change the current GMC sanctions in this way. It is crucial that panels are able to use discretion because it allows them to consider complaints on a case-by-case basis.

“These new proposals attempt to direct panels to reach specific decisions in certain types of cases. This is restrictive and inappropriate, and will prevent panels from using their discretion to make fair, balanced and considered decisions about sanctions”

While the MPS agrees there need to be some sanctions in place to regulate GPs,it also believes the current proposals lack discretion and will lead to an increase of decisions being challenged which prolongs the process unnecessarily. Instead, the guidelines should be set in general terms with each panel using their own discretion.

Clements added: “The GMC’s consultation on sanctions is in addition to recent proposals to extend the GMC’s powers so that it can appeal decisions of its own panels. Taken together, we think these plans will undermine proportionate and consistent oversight of healthcare professional regulation.”