When a warning is appropriate
At the end of the investigation by the GMC of allegations against a doctor, the case will be considered by two senior GMC staff known as case examiners (one medical and one non-medical). They can:
- conclude the case with no further action;
- issue a warning;
- agree undertakings, for example to retrain or work under supervision;
- refer the case to a fitness to practise (FTP) panel of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).
When would a ‘warning' be appropriate?
Our procedures allow us to issue a warning where the GMC considers it appropriate to register any concerns regarding a doctor's behaviour or performance, in order to uphold the standards of - and public confidence in - the medical profession.
A warning will be appropriate where the concerns indicate a significant departure from the principles set out in the GMC's guidance for doctors - Good Medical Practice - or if there is a significant cause for concern following assessment but a restriction on the doctor's registration is not necessary.
What is the process for issuing a warning?
If a case examiner considers that it may be appropriate to conclude the case with a warning, the GMC will write to the doctor to seek his/her comments. The doctor has 28 days to provide those comments.
Once the doctor has had an opportunity to comment, both case examiners will then formally assess the case to determine whether a warning is appropriate or whether the case should be dealt with in some other way (including referral to a FTP Panel).
If both case examiners consider that a warning is appropriate - and the doctor has not disputed the facts alleged or exercised his/her right to an oral hearing before the Investigation Committee - the warning will be issued.
What if the Case Examiners disagree?
If the two case examiners do not agree on the appropriate outcome, the case will be decided at a meeting of the Investigation Committee (a statutory committee of the GMC). This committee will have the same options available to it as the case examiners.
What if the doctor disputes the facts alleged?
If the doctor disputes the facts alleged, or exercises his/her right to an oral hearing, the matter will be referred to the Investigation Committee to consider at a hearing 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
The Investigation Committee will consider all the information collected during the investigation and will hear any other evidence it considers desirable before arriving at a decision.
Following the hearing the Investigation Committee may:
- confirm that the warning should be issued;
- conclude the case with no action;
- refer the case to a fitness to practise (FTP) panel of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (where new evidence arising during the hearing indicates that it would be appropriate to do so).
A warning may also be issued by a FTP Panel following its consideration of any case at a hearing before the Panel. Minutes from Committee meetings are available on the Investigation Committee decisions page. A decision by the Investigation Committee or a fitness to practise panel to issue a warning can only be challenged by way of judicial review.
Disclosure of a warning
A warning will be published on the List of Registered Medical Practitioners (LRMP) and disclosed to any enquirer for a five year period. After five years, the warning will cease to be published on LRMP however it will be kept on record and disclosed to employers on request, indefinitely.