GMC ready for legal challenge on proof change

The GMC is bracing itself for a High Court challenge in the wake of lowering the standard of proof in fitness-to-practice cases, according to its president.

Sir Graeme Catto
Sir Graeme Catto

GMC president Professor Sir Graeme Catto said: ‘It is a new law and should any doctor feel it wasn’t applied fairly, I suspect, as with any major change, we will end up in the High Court.’

The introduction of the civil standard of proof in fitness-to-practice cases, rather than the criminal standard, will start from April 2008, the GMC hopes.

The GMC has published a summary of responses to the consultation on how the changes should be implemented.

Almost without exception, responses from individual members of the profession argued against the civil standard of proof, the report said.

But the GMC president was defiant, saying: ‘We are talking about 50 individual responses. 50 doctors out of all the doctors in the country.’

The consultation was meant to establish how to implement the changes, but the BMA was frustrated that there was no consultation on whether to make the changes in the first place.

Paul Phillip, GMC director of standards and fitness to practise, said there were many organisations in favour of the move and that most other government regulators used the civil standard. He later admitted that the majority of health organisations were probably against the move.

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