Outcome of the GMC’s consultation on publication of fitness to practise information
At their meeting on 25 February 2016 the Council of the GMC was invited to approve recommendations from the recent consultation on publication and disclosure policy. The recommendations include the adoption of time limits for publication, which are substantially shorter than those that were originally proposed by the GMC in the consultation process.
What might change?
If the recommendations are adopted, doctors who have received a suspension of more than three months will have that sanction published on the GMC register for 15 years from the expiry of the suspension. In cases where a suspension of three months or less has been imposed, or where a doctor has been subject to conditions or undertakings, they will be published for a period of 10 years from the date the sanction expires or is revoked. It was also recommended that the Council approve a recommendation to cease disclosure to prospective employers once material is no longer published on the GMC website. However, the GMC would continue to disclose information to current employers in respect of historic matters beyond the publication time limits set out above.
What is absent from the proposals?
Notably absent from the proposals was any attempt to provide a mechanism to assess the proportionality of ongoing publication in respect of individual cases. The approach remains a blanket approach based on the class of sanction imposed without reference to the underlying circumstances of the case. The consultation report notes that a number of respondents raised concerns about a disproportionate impact on practitioners who have been the subject of fitness to practise sanctions on the basis of adverse health.
What is still to be considered?
Concerns were raised by a number of respondents at the absence of any differentiation between cases where restrictions had been imposed on the grounds of adverse health and those restrictions were based on a finding of misconduct. That issue is to be considered by Professor Appleby as part of his review of the GMC’s process and the way in which it impacts upon vulnerable doctors.
The recommendations suggest the GMC will move forward with plans to publish case summaries alongside any undertakings agreed with a registrant. It is anticipated that the case summary will be published for the same duration as the undertakings.
It is expected that the GMC’s final response to the consultation will be formally published within the coming weeks but the draft document is available on the Council’s website by clicking here.
You can read our recent observations on the publication of fitness to practise histories here.
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