HCSA has today joined 18 other organisations to urge the government to act on its five-year-old commitment to remove regulator the General Medical Council’s right to appeal its own decisions.
The measure was a key recommendation of the Williams review which was launched after the aggressive prosecution of junior doctor Hadiza Bawa-Garba by the GMC. She faced court charges of gross negligence manslaughter after being pursued by the regulator, which used the powers to appeal the findings of its own MPTS tribunal.
Dr Bawa Garba’s case, which centred on the tragic death of a child patient against a backdrop of understaffing and systemic failures, gained national headlines and sparked fury among hospital doctors. HCSA accused the GMC of adopting an “adversarial and punitive approach rather than one based on seeking informed balance and justice.”
The GMC eventually lost its case at the Court of Appeal and led to a consensus that the regulator’s powers should be stripped in order to prevent any other doctor facing the same ordeal. However, it has continued to apply the power in dozens of cases since.
The government has to date failed to follow through on its pledge to strip the GMC of the right of appeal, despite stating it would do so this year.
HCSA President Dr Naru Narayanan, a signatory to the joint letter, said: “It is shameful that we are still waiting, five years on from the Williams review, for action from the government to strip the GMC of its power of appeal.
“This is a power that the regulator has proven unworthy of holding and which has been used to hammer individual doctors.
“The adversarial approach of the GMC, despite paying lip service to justice and balance, has destroyed too many careers and disproportionately those of non-white colleagues. The government must act now to implement its pledge. The GMC in its current form is not fit to regulate doctors.”
Medical Protection Society President Professor Dame Jane Dacre said: “This month marks five years since the Government first committed to removing the GMC’s power to appeal fitness to practise tribunal decisions. During that time the GMC has challenged 24 decisions. The delay is disappointing and frustrating.
“The GMC’s power to appeal has generated distrust between the medical profession and the regulator and has contributed to a culture of fear.”
- The letter to the Health Secretary calling for section 40A of the Medical Act 1983 to be removed before the end of this parliament, was also signed by the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Emergency Medicine, British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, The Doctors’ Association UK, Association of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Medical Women’s Federation, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, British International Doctors Association, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow, Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, Royal College of Pathologists, the British Medical Association, Royal College of General Practitioners, and Medical Defence Shield.