The British Medical Association (BMA) is calling for the General Medical Council (GMC) to lose its right (since 2015) to appeal decisions reached by its own fitness to practise hearings before a Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT). This has come to a head following the case of Dr Bawa-Garba who was struck off following the GMC's appeal of its MPT decision that Dr Bawa-Garba could remain on the medical register following a conviction for gross negligence manslaughter (GNM).
There is growing concern about the perception of a risk of double jeopardy if the GMC continues to appeal its own decisions.
This forms part of the BMA's formal recommendations to the Williams review, set up by Jeremy Hunt, into GNM charges against doctors. Further, the BMA advises that GNM cases should only be referred after consultation with the Chief Coroner, and that the DPP should 'personally authorise' all prosecutions involving accusations of GNM in a healthcare setting, as well as for a special GNM police unit to be set up to investigate all such cases.
As Dr Bawa-Garba's reflective learning in her appraisal was used in evidence against her, and this has caused considerable concern in the medical community that this could adversely affect safety and learning, the BMA also recommends that legal protection is provided to all healthcare and training documents. Whilst the GMC has 'provided assurances' that it will 'never require access to a doctor’s reflection documents', the BMA 'believe that it is necessary to amend section 35A (1A) of the Medical Act 1983 which currently allows the GMC to compel disclosure'. This comes at a time when the BMA is in talks with the GMC about updates to written reflections guidance amid concerns raised by doctors.
BMA calls for GMC to lose right to appeal tribunal decisions