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Fitness to Practise legislation

Investigation and adjudication

Fitness to Practise Rules 2004

The Medical Act gives us powers and responsibilities for taking action when questions arise about doctors’ fitness to practise. 

The detailed arrangements for how these matters are investigated and adjudicated upon are set out in rules. These rules have the force of law.

View the GMC (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2004 (262kb pdf)  

The 2004 Rules have been amended on several occasions in 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015, by the following orders:  

Guidance to Fitness to Practise Rules 2004

We have provided some guidance to accompany these rules. The guidance has no legal authority. It is, however, intended to provide an overview of the procedures and how they operate.

Guidance to FtP Rules (pdf)

Panels, Tribunals and Committees

Some complaints and information we receive are referred to a committee, panel or tribunal to consider. The arrangements for the composition of the committee, panel or tribunal are described in statutory rules.

View the General Medical Council (Constitution of Panels, Tribunals and Investigation Committee) Rules 2015 (pdf) 

The 2015 rules replace the General Medical Council (Constitution of Panels and Investigation Committee) Rules 2004 and the subsequent amendment orders made in 2005, 2009 and 2010.

The General Medical Council (Fitness to Practise and Constitution of Panels and Investigation Committee (Amendment) Rules 2013 (pdf) are still in force in relation to amendments made to the GMC Fitness to Practise Rules 2004.

The above rules also cover the composition of Registration Appeals Panels (Registration Appeals Panels 91kb, pdf)

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service is the adjudication service for UK doctors and run hearings for doctors whose fitness to practise is called into question. The arrangements for the composition of tribunals is set out in the following rules:

The General Medical Council (Constitution of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service) Rules Order of Council 2015 (pdf).

Legal Assessor rules

The panels and committees that consider matters relating to doctors’ fitness to practise are accompanied by a senior lawyer, known as a Legal Assessor.

The job of the Legal Assessor is to advise the committee or panel on points of law. The role and functions of the Legal Assessor are set out in rules:

The General Medical Council (Legal Assessors and Legally Qualified Persons) Rules Order of Council 2015 (pdf).

Decisions by other regulatory bodies

If a doctor is disqualified from practice in another European State, this may affect his or her registration in the UK. The Medical Act provides for rules to be made covering the procedures for handling such cases.

View the General Medical Council (Fitness to Practise) (Disqualifying Decisions and Determinations by Regulatory Bodies) Procedure Rules Order of Council 2004 (OPSI website) (opens new window).

Minor amendments to these rules were made on 16 November 2009 by The General Medical Council (Fitness to Practise) (Disqualifying Decisions and Determinations by Regulatory Bodies Procedure) (Amendment) Rules Order of Council 2009 (pdf) and on 31 December 2015 by The General Medical Council (Amendments to Miscellaneous Rules and Regulations) Order of Council 2015 (pdf).

Disclosure and barring services

We have statutory powers to refer doctors who may pose a risk to vulnerable adults or children to the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006) and to Disclosure Scotland under the Protecting Vulnerable Groups Act as amended.

The DBS or Disclosure Scotland considers the information it receives to decide whether it is appropriate to bar the person from working or volunteering with vulnerable adults and children. For more information about how we decide when to share information with the DBS and DS please see below.