As a medical practitioner, the significance of retaining your fitness to practice means the world to you. When you are referred to the General Medical Council (GMC) by a patient, police or employer, the council will conduct an investigation. Consequences can be devastating and can usually result in a suspension, termination or even criminal prosecution. If you know you are under investigation, you must contact a GMC solicitor for specialist representation and advice.
When searching for defence solicitor, you want to pick somebody with many years of experience of defending doctors who face fitness to practice investigations by the GMC. The right lawyer should be able to help you with the following:
Submitting a Written Response to a Complaint
If the GMC contacted you and requested you to submit such response, you have to take advice from a solicitor right away. This is because what the initial response says usually shapes how the investigation will proceed, particularly, whether or not your case must be referred for a public hearing before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT). Choosing the right defence solicitor will ensure your investigation will get an early conclusion, thus you avoid an MPT hearing.
Getting Representation when Appearing Before the Interim Orders Tribunal (IOT)
At the start of an investigation by the GMC, doctors may be summoned to appear before the IOT for the decision to whether or not restrictions must be imposed on their registration during the investigation. When imposed, these registrations can negatively affect their ability to work and stay in place for a long period of time. Therefore, you must seek proper representation at the IOT hearing. The perfect solicitor should be able to help you achieve a positive result at such hearing either by working with other barristers in the field or doing the advocacy themselves.
Getting Representation at Fitness to Practise Hearings
A lot of GMC investigations will end in hearings before the MPT to decide whether or not the allegations against a doctor are proven. Also, the MPT hearing will decide whether or not the medical professional is fit to practice or to take action against their registration. In case the MPT summons you to a hearing, you must get proper legal advice and a strong representation to get the best outcome possible. Your defence solicitor must have a proven track record in defending doctors at such hearings and have established themselves in the field.
In the last few years, there have been many GMC investigations into allegations of a doctor’s impaired fitness to practice. Not all cases end up in the fitness to practice stage and doctors who are proactive in making constructive responses to allegations often fair better who don’t do something. Getting the right representation during the investigations can help ensure a positive outcome for the case. The representation must be provided by qualified barristers. A number of these lawyers are also clinically qualified, which can provide assistance if you face allegations associated with clinical practice. The most important thing is to know what to look out for in a barrister.