Employers information - when there are concerns about a doctor


Health professionals making a complaint about a doctor

The GMC has published guidance to help health professionals who have concerns about a doctor.

See our section How to make a complaint about a doctor: a guide for doctors, medical directors and clinical governance managers.

Information for employers

To support employers in deciding whether a referral to the GMC is appropriate we have developed guidance to clarify when we can and cannot take action explaining the thresholds for referral (pdf).

Consultation on information that employers need

We want to make the fitness to practise information in these pages as useful as possible for employers.

We would welcome the views of employers on these pages. If you have any comments or suggestions please e-mail them to gmcftp@gmc-uk.org.

Employing or contracting with doctors with restrictions on their practice

Where a doctor with restrictions or requirements on their practice has agreed arrangements with you (and/or their Responsible Officer) to continue in or return to medical practice, the Responsible Officer will play a role in ensuring that the doctor’s return to practice is appropriately and safely managed.

The doctor is required to share their list of restrictions and their performance assessment reports with their Responsible Officer. We will also share relevant information about the doctor’s compliance with the restrictions on their practice with the doctor’s Responsible Officer.

The exception to this is restrictions that relate solely to the doctor’s health which are treated as confidential and are not disclosed. In some circumstances, where we believe there are particular risks, we may require a doctor to disclose the details of health related concerns to the occupational health provider or their employer.

The role of a Responsible Officer

In addition to their role in the revalidation process, a Responsible Officer has a number of responsibilities to fulfil to make sure the return to practice for a doctor with restrictions is appropriately and safely managed. Before a doctor with restrictions on their practice can start work, they should obtain the approval of their Responsible Officer for the following workplace arrangements:

  • locum appointments, on-call work or out of hours work
  • the appointment of a workplace reporter, educational supervisor and clinical supervisor
  • the appointment of a mentor, if relevant
  • arrangements for supervision, close supervision and direct supervision
  • prescribing practices for certain drugs or situations.

The Responsible Officer should agree the doctor’s personal development plan (PDP) and meet with the doctor (or make arrangements for this to be done on their behalf), as required, to discuss their achievements against the aims of their PDP.

Doctors who do not have a Responsible Officer

A doctor with restrictions on their practice who does not have a Responsible Officer can identify a person who has the necessary expertise and who has agreed to undertake the role and support their return to work. This could be an Education Director, Dean, or someone with a similar position of responsibility. We must approve the arrangement before the doctor can start working.

If the doctor cannot identify someone with appropriate experience, they must tell us and should not start working until they have made suitable arrangements that have been agreed with us.

We have also published further guidance on the role of Responsible Officers and about workplace reporting to help employers of doctors with restricted registration.