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Amendments to the GMC's fitness to practise procedures

Sarah Ellson
09/05/2013
On 8 May 2013, amendments to the General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Rules and Constitution of Panels and Investigation Committee Rules came into force. The most significant of these On 8 May 2013, amendments to the General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Rules and Constitution of Panels and Investigation Committee Rules came into force. The most significant of these amendments are summarised below.

The Rules remove the requirement for the Registrar to notify the practitioner concerned if a complaint of any nature had been made; the Registrar now only needs to notify the practitioner if the complaint is one which potentially engages consideration of their fitness to practise.

Where the Investigation Committee is to make a decision on a warning, the Rules have been amended so as to allow both the GMC's Presenting Officer and the practitioner to adduce documentary evidence as of right. However, the Committee may only admit oral evidence where it considers this necessary to enable it to discharge its functions.

The amended Rules also expressly provide that a Case Manager may give a direction for evidence to be given by means of a video link or a telephone link, where the parties agree to this. Furthermore, a party may at any time during a hearing, make an application to the Committee or Panel for the oral evidence of a witness to be given by means of a video link or a telephone link. The decision as to whether to allow this ultimately rests with the Committee or Panel if, in their consideration, it is in the interests of justice to do so.

Further, the Rules introduce a presumption that a witness' statement will stand as evidence-in-chief, unless: a) the parties agree; b) a Case Manager directs; or c) the Committee or Panel decides upon an application, that the witness concerned is to give evidence-in-chief by way of oral evidence.

A decision to cancel a hearing will now be made by a Case Examiner, rather a member of the Investigation Committee, as had previously been the case (Rule 28).

Finally, the GMC's Constitution Rules have been amended so as enable legally qualified panellists to act as both a Case Manger and panellist in a case. This is notwithstanding the Rules which otherwise stipulate that no panellist shall sit on the substantive hearing of a case on which they have previously considered or adjudicated in another capacity.

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