Doctors to face hearings under new tribunal service

A GP taking a blood sample
Image caption A GP taking a blood sample

Doctors involved in fitness to practise hearings will now be referred to a new independent tribunal service set up as part of government-led reforms.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) is taking over hearings from the General Medical Council, but will operate separately and impartially.

It is led by a judicial figure who is accountable to Parliament.

MPTS panels have the power to remove or suspend a doctor working in the UK.

The GMC launched the new service to strengthen public and professional confidence in doctors' hearings.

It was set up following consultation with the government in 2010, which recommended greater separation between the GMC's investigative function and the adjudication of cases.

Protecting patients

The GMC, which registers and licenses doctors to practise in the UK, will continue to handle complaints, carry out investigations into doctors and present cases to fitness to practise hearings.

The MPTS will run all fitness to practise panel hearings for the medical profession in the UK and make decisions on what action is needed to protect patients.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the General Medical Council, said the launch of the MPTS delivers a clear message.

"Although panels already make their decisions independently, it is important that their autonomy is clear and that the oversight of their work is quite separate from our investigatory activity.

"We hope that the MPTS will strengthen professional and public confidence that our hearings are impartial, fair and transparent."

David Pearl, the chair of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, said: "One of my earliest priorities is to make improvements to the way that panellists are trained and performance managed, which will bolster the quality of decision making."

Other changes will include the digital recording of the fitness to practise hearings.

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