Length of fitness to practise hearings will be reduced, says MPTS

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) will 'reduce the length' of hearings and offer more support to affected doctors over the next year, it has told parliament.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey: more support needed for doctors facing hearings
GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey: more support needed for doctors facing hearings

Tribunals could be allowed to read evidence and documents in advance to reduce the duration of fitness to practise hearings, the MPTS said in an annual report on its performance.

The organisation will also work with the GMC to reduce the number of adjournments and delays in judgment and increase its support offer to doctors undergoing hearings – in particular during the pre-hearing stage to ‘lessen the isolation and stress’ during this period.

Plans to extend the support offered to doctors who do not have legal representation, which applies to 11% of cases, have also been outlined.

The MPTS is an adjudication service funded by the GMC that conducts hearings against doctors. Although it is not independent of the GMC, which investigates complaints that can lead to hearings, it operates separately and makes independent decisions.

Fitness to practise

Its report to parliament shows that the number of doctors referred to the tribunal fell in 2016 to 232, down a third from the 336 referred in 2015.

Two thirds of cases brought to the MPTS were for misconduct, with other reasons including ‘deficient professional performance’, criminal conviction, adverse physical/mental health or not having necessary knowledge of English.

A third resulted in erasure from the medical register, while 41% led to suspension. Just 15% had no action taken against them and 5% were not impaired but given a warning.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It's incredibly stressful for any doctor to be involved in a GMC or MPTS case and the more support that can be offered to such doctors the better and the acknowledgement of MPTS of the need to do this is welcome. There is also a need to shorten the process where practically possible.’

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