Covid 19 IOT update - April 2020
Changes to Proof of Service
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the GMC and MPTS have agreed an alternative approach to proof of service (POS). Counsel should be aware of the following:
- We will serve the GMC information letter by email wherever possible. POS will remain as standard for these cases, with a read receipt necessary to prove service. An electronic copy of the IOT bundle will be provided
- Where email service is not possible the GMC will send the information letter by first class post. The FtP rules and the Medical Act do not require us to send the information letter by special delivery to demonstrate receipt. That contrasts with the MPTS Notice of Hearing. Where an information letter is sent by first class post a completed certificate of service and a screen shot of the Drs registered or know address will be provided as POS. You can see the certificate of service in the ‘Covid-19’ folder in the ‘Guidance and Forms’ section of GMC Connect
- Where the information letter is sent via first class post we will be unable to send hard copies of IOT bundles. We will include a section in the information letter inviting the doctor to provide us with an email so we can provide an electronic copy of the bundle. Where we have no email address the bundle will not be provided to the doctor. MPTS are aware of this and have agreed this approach is acceptable for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak. You can see the MPTS circular regarding service in the ‘Covid-19’ folder on GMC Connect
- The MPTS will send their notice of hearing via email wherever possible. Where service by email is not possible, they will send a copy of the bundle via courier (as required by the rules). POS will be provided by MPTS ahead of the hearing confirming delivery to the doctor
Principles for relaxation & revocation of interim orders
We have received several requests from doctors and their representatives regarding the relaxation or revocation of both substantive and interim orders. We have produced a guide for operational staff and decision makers, the ‘Relaxation and revocation of sanctions guidance’. This will be useful guide for Counsel and can be viewed in the ‘Covid-19’ folder of the ‘Guidance and Forms’ section of GMC Connect.
Our regulatory standards and thresholds remain the same as a starting point, but we recognise the importance of supporting the profession through a challenging period. We also recognise that in some cases the public interest considerations relating to restrictions on a doctor’s practise may be altered at present. You can see the GMC’s statement regarding regulation during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Covid-19 submissions and seeking instructions
Counsel should identify when submissions are made that an interim order should be relaxed or revoked because of the Covid-19 outbreak. That may be distinct from any suggestion they have been unable to comply with a condition of a single occasion. It must be either a direct request that an interim order is unworkable or disproportionate, or any submission that indirectly amounts to this. Where a Covid-19 submission is made the following is applicable:
- In some instances, the first indication of a request for a relaxation/ revocation of an order might be during an IOT hearing. Counsel should seek to gain as much clarity as possible from the doctor or representative as to the specific change they are requesting and the basis for that request – for example if a variation of conditions is being requested, what specifically is being suggested as an alternative? This will allow us to obtain appropriate instructions
- Counsel should be clear and robust with the tribunal that we may need up to 30 minutes to obtain full instructions. This will especially be the case where a new/ varied order of conditions may need drafting and approving
- Where there is a paralegal referenced on the instructions, they will should be approached directly for instructions. If the paralegal is unavailable for any reason the RIOT LPA for the day will be available to obtain instructions.
- Where there is no paralegal referenced on the instructions, the RIOT LPA for the day should be approached for instructions
- The paralegal or LPA will have to approach a GMC Case Examiner for instructions on the relaxation, variation or revocation of the order. We will always seek instructions as quickly as possible
If you have any queries relating please contact: