In a consultation document, the GMC set out plans to change the way it handles fitness-to-practise cases.
The GMC said if doctors accepted sanctions recommended by the regulator in a fitness-to-practise case, including suspension or erasure from the register if necessary, they could avoid ‘stressful’ public hearings. The plans aim to deliver a quicker system while still maintaining fairness to doctors and patients.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘Our view is that attending a hearing can be a stressful experience for everyone involved and there is no need to do this if the doctor is willing to accept sanctions that protect patients.
'These changes would represent a major reform of our procedures and we are keen to ensure that all those with an interest in our work have the opportunity to contribute and respond.'
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey backed the proposals. ‘I think that sounds reasonable,’ he said. ‘The slowness of GMC proceedings is extremely stressful for doctors who find themselves in that situation. The GMC does seriously need to address the time it takes to deal with cases and if this works it is welcome.’
The consultation also discusses whether some cases should always trigger a public hearing and proposes increased opportunities for discussions between the GMC and doctors.
It also proposes automatic erasure for doctors with some criminal convictions, and suspension for doctors who refuse to co-operate in fitness-to-practise cases.
The consultation runs until 11 April.