What action can we take against a doctor?

Interim sanctions

If we think the allegations against a doctor mean they should be stopped from practising freely, we can ask the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) to consider putting temporary measures in place while we investigate.

These are called interim sanctions

At the end of the investigation

At the end of each investigation, we decide what action we should take. In three quarters of investigations, we take no action. This could be because:

  • the doctor has made a great effort to ensure they will not repeat their mistakes and there are no current patient safety risks
  • a lack of evidence means there is no real chance a tribunal would take action against a doctor.


In about 5% of investigations, we give a doctor a warning. This means that, although the doctor does not pose a risk to future patient safety, their behaviour or performance was below the standards we expect of doctors in the UK.

In about 8% of investigations, we ask the doctor to sign an agreement with us – called undertakings. The doctor commits to improving the way they work and we work with the doctor’s employer to make sure the doctor honours this agreement.

In about 11% of investigations, we decide to refer a doctor to a hearing at the MPTS. The MPTS runs hearings to decide whether to take action against doctors we refer to them.

You can find out more about our sanctions.

What happens at an MPTS hearing – and what action the MPTS can take.