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When a warning is appropriate


Contents


Introduction

At the end of our investigation into allegations against a doctor, two senior GMC staff known as case examiners (one medical and one non-medical) will consider the case. They can:  

  • conclude the case with no further action
  • issue a warning
  • agree undertakings - for example to re-train or work under supervision
  • refer the case to a medical practitioners tribunal (MPT) of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS). 

When would a warning be appropriate?

We may issue a warning if a doctor’s behaviour or performance shows a significant departure from the principles set out in our guidance for doctors – Good medical practice - but a restriction on the doctor's registration is not necessary.

What is the process for issuing a warning?

If a case examiner concludes that the doctor should be given a warning, we will write to the doctor to ask for his or her comments. The doctor has 28 days to respond. 

Both case examiners will then review the case to decide whether to issue a warning or to deal with the case in another way (including referring the case to a medical practitioners tribunal). 

If both case examiners decide that a warning is appropriate – and the doctor has not disputed the facts alleged or asked for an oral hearing before the Investigation Committee – we will issue the warning.

What if the case examiners disagree?

The case will be referred to the Investigation Committee, which has the same options for disposing of the case as the case examiners. 

What if the doctor disputes the facts alleged or asks for an oral hearing?

The case will be referred to the Investigation Committee to decide whether a warning should be issued.

We will write to the doctor to give notice of the hearing and to confirm the arrangements. The hearing will be held in public.

The Investigation Committee

At the Investigation Committee hearing, the officer presenting the case for the GMC will outline the allegation and the facts on which it is based. The officer may present documentary evidence to support the allegation, but will only be allowed to present oral evidence if the Investigation Committee decides that it needs this evidence to reach a decision.

The doctor may respond to the allegation and present any relevant documentary evidence. Similarly, the doctor will only be allowed to present oral evidence if the Investigation Committee decides that it needs this evidence to reach a decision.  

After hearing the parties' evidence, the Investigation Committee will:

  • confirm that the warning should be issued
  • conclude the case with no action, or 
  • where new evidence is received at the hearing that suggests action on registration may be appropriate, refer the case to a medical practitioners tribunal of the MPTS.  

In certain circumstances, the registrar may review the Investigation Committee’s decision to issue a warning. The decision may also be challenged by judicial review.

If a medical practitioners tribunal issues a warning to a doctor, this can be challenged by judicial review only. 

Minutes from the Investigation Committee’s hearings are available on the Investigation Committee Decisions page on our website.

Disclosure of a warning

We publish on the online register and disclose warnings to all enquirers for five years. After that time, we will keep a record of the warning and only disclose it to employers on request.