Coronavirus: Our approach to fitness to practise

We know that you and your team are under immense pressure. We’ve taken steps to minimise the impact of our investigations on the profession and health services, while continuing to ensure patient safety.

We’ll assess every concern we receive, but we’ll only contact you about those which present an immediate risk to patient safety. While this means that we won’t be able to progress some cases as efficiently as normal, or at all for the time being, we hope it allows you to focus on the frontline during this very challenging time.

We’ve also decided that:

  • we’ll pause all new and reconvened medical practitioner tribunal hearings; and unless they’ve already been issued, there won’t be any doctor or GMC appeals for paused hearings
  • we’ll pause all performance assessments, and some health assessments
  • we’ll consider and triage all new concerns, but pause those requiring investigation, unless we consider there’s a patient safety risk that requires immediate action
  • we won’t request information from healthcare providers or healthcare professionals to support investigations, unless there’s a patient safety risk that requires immediate action. This means that some ongoing investigations will be paused
  • we’ll progress investigations where possible and with the agreement of relevant parties, to minimise delays
  • we’ll pause all face to face meetings with patients but, where possible, we’ll hold phone meetings.

We’re also adapting how we carry out some of our activities so that we can continue to ensure patient safety during the pandemic. We have:

  • developed criteria to assess requests from doctors to relax or remove sanctions on their practice, so they can support the NHS during the emergency
  • prioritised interim order tribunals, and post suspension/conditions review hearings, to manage patient safety risks that require action
  • expanded the types of cases that could be reviewed based on documentary evidence, to reduce the number of tribunal hearings we need to run
  • agreed to review, on a case by case basis, whether chemical testing in cases of substance use is practical or necessary.

If you’re sending us any correspondence, please do this electronically where possible. We have limited capacity to deal with items received through the post, because we’ve followed UK government advice and moved our teams to home working. 

We’ll keep our approach under review as the situation develops and update you of any further changes.

Read more information about our fitness to practise work and how we’ll regulate during this period