Campaigners warn NHS faces 'breakdown' unless GMC appeals are stopped

Coverage of DAUK’s co-ordinated letter to Matt Hancock in GP Online

In a letter to health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, the Doctors Association UK (DAUK) and others including campaign group GP Survival voiced ‘collective concern’ over the GMC’s decision to continue to appeal decisions by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in court following the Bawa-Garba case.

The government set out plans to strip the the GMC of its power to appeal decisions made by the MPTS after a review triggered by the damaging, high-profile case of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba - struck off after a GMC appeal against a tribunal ruling, but later reinstated.

The government review warned GMC appeals had created 'fear and mistrust' among doctors and were 'deterring reflection and learning from errors to the detriment of patient safety'.

Tribunal appeal

However, the government has yet to pass legislation to remove the GMC's power of appeal, and GPonline revealed last month that the regulator is currently appealing four tribunal decisions.

In each of these cases, the GMC is asking the Court of Appeal to replace an MPTS decision with a more severe sanction.  In three cases it is recommending - as it did in the Bawa-Garba case - that suspension be substituted for erasure from the medical register.

The letter, signed by 14 representatives from 11 different organisations, urged Mr Hancock to ‘call upon the GMC to cease appealing MPTS verdicts’ and confirm when the regulator’s right to appeal will be repealed, as recommended by the Williams review earlier this year.

The letter reads: ‘We, the undersigned, all agree that the GMC cannot be trusted to take a balanced and considered approach in the sanction of doctors who have made honest mistakes in the context of system failures.