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GMC sanction changes 'fraught with difficulty'

Possible changes to GMC sanctions guidance, and the role of apologies and warnings, are disproportionate and fraught with difficulty, the BMA has warned.

GMC signThe association disagrees with a number of the proposals in a GMC consultation on the way the regulator deals with concerns about doctors through its guidance for fitness-to-practise panels.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said, while patient safety had to be paramount, a number of the GMC proposals were a step too far.

He said: ‘We all want doctors to be working to the highest standards and, where things have gone wrong, be held to account.

‘However, we are concerned the GMC proposals are disproportionate and could have unintended consequences in areas such as raising concerns or a doctor’s right to defend themselves, which would be counterproductive.’

Public confidence

The GMC suggested panels should consider taking action to maintain public confidence in doctors even when a doctor had remediated, if the concerns were sufficiently serious or persistent.

The BMA fears this could lead to panels punishing doctors who pose no threat to the public, solely on the basis that failure to do so might incur the disapproval of the public. It warns there is a risk of doctors facing ‘trial by media’.

The BMA highlights proposals that could have an impact on whistleblowing by doctors.

The GMC suggested panels should consider more serious action where cases involved a failure to raise concerns.

The BMA says this is ‘fraught with difficulty’ as failures to raise concerns may reflect organisational and cultural failings. It highlights legal advice indicating that the proposal ignores implications for other areas of law, especially whistleblowing.

The association took legal advice from Mark Sutton QC and barrister Nadia Motraghi. It also took account of member feedback after using the online BMA Communities to develop a formal consultation response for the first time.

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