GMC FTP hearings (fitness to practise hearings) – Specialist legal advice for healthcare professionals
At Lexadeen Solicitors we have represented countless number of doctors in respect of both FTP hearings and appeals and fitness to practise hearings.
FTP hearings are convened in order decide whether a doctor’s fitness to practice is impaired. It is the GMC which brings the case against the doctor.
The panel itself is made up of medical and non-medical people appointed to inquire into allegations of impaired fitness to practise.
In addition to the chairman, who may be medical or non-medical, there must be at least one medical and one non-medical panellist on each panel.
A legal assessor also sits with each panel and advises on points of law, including the procedure and powers of the panel.
Fitness to practise panel hears the evidence;
During FTP hearings the panel hears the evidence, once they have heard it they must decide:
- Whether the facts alleged have been found proved
- Whether, on the basis of the facts found proved, the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired
- If so, whether any action should be taken against the doctor’s registration.
If, during the fitness to practise hearing, the panel concludes that the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired, the following sanctions are available:
- To take no action
- To accept undertakings offered by the doctor provided the panel is satisfied that such undertakings protect patients and the wider public interest
- To place conditions on the doctor’s registration
- To suspend the doctor’s registration
- To erase the doctor’s name from the Medical Register, so that they can no longer practise.
Where the panel makes a finding on disputed facts, it applies the civil standard of proof i.e on the balance of probabilities/above 51%. This a very low threshold when in comparison to the threshold used in criminal proceedings.
Where the panel decides whether or not the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired, it uses its judgment. The same is true when the panel decides what sanction should be imposed on the doctor.
The panel must be satisfied that any proposed action is sufficient to protect patients and the public interest.
Even in the event a panel concludes that the doctor’s fitness to practise is not impaired, it may issue a warning to the doctor.
Fitness to practice appeals
Doctors have a right of appeal to the High Court (Court of Session in Scotland) against any decision by a panel to restrict or remove their registration. This is particularly so if the decision was wrong or there was a serious procedural irregularity.
However it should also be remembered that the professional standards authority for health and social care may also appeal against certain decisions if they consider the decision was too lenient.
Should you require assistance in respect of a fitness to practice hearing please contact our very experienced team on 01204 524 775.