The Medical Protection Society (MPS) has welcomed commitment from DHSC to progress legislation that will finally strip the GMC of its power to appeal fitness to practise decisions in 2023.
DHSC set out its revised timetable for the implementation of long-awaited regulatory reform for doctors last week, with changes now not due to be implemented until 2024 at the earliest.
DHSC did however confirm that it would prioritise legislation to remove the GMC’s power to appeal fitness to practise decisions in 2023, alongside legislation that will bring physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AA’s) into statutory regulation.
MPS has long called for the GMC’s power to appeal MPTS decisions to be removed, and has been urging the government to act on its commitment to do so since it accepted the recommendation in the 2018 Professor Sir Norman Williamsreview. The Williams review, which followed the case of Dr Bawa-Garba, said removing the GMC’s right of appeal would help address the mistrust of the GMC among doctors and contribute to cultivating a culture of openness that is central to delivering improved patient safety.
MPS said the delay on wider regulatory reform was frustrating, but welcomed the certainty around the removal of the GMC’s right to appeal.
Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at MPS, said: “It is extremely frustrating to see yet more delay to regulatory reform for doctors; it is now more than 11 years since the Government first set out proposals to radically reform the GMC and changes will now not be implemented until 2024 at the earliest.
“A silver lining however is that DHSC will prioritise legislative change to remove the GMC’s power to appeal fitness to practise decisions in 2023, alongside the legislation for PA’s and AA’s. This is thanks to long standing campaigning led by MPS and supported by royal colleges, trade unions and grassroots organisations.
“The GMC’s power to appeal decisions made by the MPTS has created distrust between the medical profession and the regulator and contributed to a culture of fear. Fitness to practise proceedings are stressful and lengthy enough for doctors, without the added worry that the GMC can seek to override the decision made by the MPTS if it does not agree.
“MPS has continually raised concerns that the GMC continues to use these powers despite the Government’s 2018 commitment to removing them, with recent FOI data showing 23 appeals have been lodged during the four-year period.
“Doctors will have this hanging over their heads until the relevant legislative changes are made to the Medical Act, however the certainty that these changes will be made in 2023 is welcome.”