Professional behaviour and fitness to practise

Appeals committees and panels

  1. Medical schools and universities should have a fair and transparent process for appealing the findings of the student fitness to practise committee or panel, which should be clear and compliant with equality and diversity requirements. Those who have been closely involved in giving support to a particular student, and those who served on the committee or panel that considered that student's case, should not sit on the appeals panel.
  2. Medical schools should make sure their fitness to practise procedures clearly state the scope of and process for appeals, including:
    • the circumstances in which an appeal can be made
    • whether the appeal will be considered by a committee or panel or an individual
    • whether there will be a hearing or simply a reconsideration of the decision based on the papers originally submitted to the panel
    • whether the appeals committee or panel (or individual) can reconsider the facts of the case or is limited to deciding whether due process was followed
    • whether the appeals committee or panel (or individual) can itself make a new decision on impairment, or whether it can simply refer the case back to a new fitness to practise committee or panel
    • the composition of the appeals committee or panel, taking on board the advice in this guidance on committee or panel composition and training, and in particular the requirement that a registered doctor with a licence to practise must sit on the appeals committee or panel
    • details of further stages of appeal if they exist, and information on what students can do if they have exhausted the appeals process but still disagree with the outcome.
  3. If the outcome of a case is overturned, following appeal either to the university or student ombudsman (see paragraph 161) because of a failing to follow due process, this does not overrule any decision about whether a student is fit to practise. In these circumstances, the case will need to be reconsidered by the medical school or university following appropriate procedures but still giving due consideration to any potential impairment of a student's fitness to practise.
  4. Universities responsible for hearing appeals should be aware that medical students are training to join a registered profession. This means they are expected to behave professionally throughout their course. It is very important that universities bear in mind the future safety of patients when considering any matter relating to a student's fitness to practise.
  5. It is important to note that even if an appeal is successful the GMC will make its own decision on fitness to practise on the point of registration.