Doctors can appeal GMC decisions relating to registration, licensing, restoration and revalidation, but legal advice is key to good outcomes.

GMC decisions that are appealable

There are a number of General Medical Council (GMC) decisions made by the regulator that are appealable by doctors.  It is important to note that there are differences between GMC decisions (see below) and decisions made by a Medical Practitioner’s Tribunal (MPT).  The former (i.e. GMC decisions) are handled by the GMC’s Appeals Panel, whereas the latter (i.e. MPT decisions) are appealed to the courts.  Below is an overview of GMC decisions and the rights of appeal:

GMC Registration

A doctor can appeal against (summarised):

  • A decision to refuse an application for provisional or full registration with a licence to practise; or
  • GMC’s failure to make a decision within the required period for provisional or full registration with a licence to practise; or
  • A decision to refuse an application to disapply the requirement to only practise medicine in an approved practice setting; or
  • A decision to erase a doctor’s name from the medical register on the ground of fraud or error, or for failure to provide information in respect of fitness to practise matters.

Licence to practise and revalidation

A doctor can appeal against a GMC decision to withdraw a doctor’s licence to practise because, either the doctor (summarised):

  1. failed, without reasonable excuse, to comply with any requirement of guidance published by the GMC; or
  2. failed, without reasonable excuse, to provide any evidence or information to the Registrar; or
  3. fraudulently provided to the GMC any evidence or information which is false; or
  4. failed, without reasonable excuse, to pay any fee required.

Refusal of licence restoration

A doctor can appeal against a GMC decision to refuse a restoration application because the doctor, either (summarised):

  • failed to provide the required information in their application for restoration; or
  • failed, without reasonable excuse, to comply with revalidation requirements; or
  • fraudulently provided to the GMC any evidence or information which is false; or
  • failed, without reasonable excuse, to provide any further information as requested by the GMC.

Specialist or GP registration

A doctor’s appeal will fall into one of the following categories (summarised):

  • A decision not to include a doctor’s name in the Specialist Register or the GP Register. This includes a right of appeal against the length of any additional training or adaptation period specified in a decision, the fields to be covered by it or any examination, assessment (including a specified period of assessment) or other test of competence specified.
  • Failure by the GMC to notify a doctor of a decision within the required timescale following of receipt of a complete application for GP Registration.
  • A decision not to indicate a sub-specialty against your entry in the Specialist Register.
  • A decision to refuse the award of a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) or a Certificate of Acquired Rights (CAR) or to withdraw a CCT.

Refusal to grant a licence to practise

A doctor can appeal against a GMC decision to refuse their licence to practise because the GMC, asked them for evidence that they have the necessary knowledge of English to practise safely in the UK and (summarised).

An overview of the appeal process

GMC decision appeals are considered by a registration Appeals Panel. Whilst the appeals process for each decision (referred to above) differs, the general principles and process are the same.

Doctors will be notified of a GMC decision in writing.  The decision notice will include: 

  • The decision.
  • The reasons for the decision, and
  • Your right of appeal against that decision

The Appeals Panel is made up of three members: a legally qualified chairperson, one (or two) medical members and one lay (non-medical) member.  Doctors, or their representatives, will have an opportunity to present evidence, call witnesses and test GMC evidence. 

What doctors should consider when thinking about an appeal 

The GMC’s guidance for doctors states:

 “If you intend to instruct solicitors or counsel, you should do so as early as possible.”

If you are considering an appeal against a GMC decision, you should carefully consider the need and importance of legal advice and representation.  There is clear evidence that legal representation substantially improves the prospect of better outcomes for doctors. 

Furthermore and specifically with reference to GMC appeals, doctors must consider the following:

  1. There are strict procedural rules to follow. For example, appellant’s bundles must be sent within GMC requirements and timescales, and failure may result in the appeal being thrown out.
  2. The representative for the General Medical Council (GMC) will be a solicitor or barrister.
  3. Witnesses can be questioned and GMC evidence challenged. Without legal representation, doctors will need to question and contest evidence by themselves.
  4. The whole appeal and everything that makes up its individual parts and processes must be properly lodged within statutory timescales. The person managing the appeal can make an order to strike out your appeal if you fail to progress your appeal or to take specified steps within a specified period of time.
  5. The individual grounds and rights of appeals will depend on the individual circumstances of a doctor’s case. Legal advice will be able to assess the individual circumstances and advise on any rights and grounds of appeal.
  6. A doctor may be awarded costs relating to the cost of bringing an appeal. Conversely, however, the GMC may be awarded costs (which you would be liable to pay) relating to the costs of defending the appeal.

Fitness to Practise Barrister

I regularly advise doctors and understand the significance and impact complaints can have on the reputation and career of a doctor. A well-prepared case is essential to ensure the best outcome for you, your career and professional reputation. It is imperative that you seek legal advice from someone who specialises in GMC defence work. 

My representation covers:

  • GMC fitness to practise referrals
  • GMC fitness to practise hearings
  • Appeals against a MPTS Tribunal determination
  • MPTS Interim Order hearings
  • Appeals against a MPTS Interim Orders Tribunal determination
  • Preparing your case before the Case Examiners
  • Help with the decision of the Case Examiners
  • Help with voluntary removal
  • Registration advice
  • Appeal against refusal of registration
  • Restoration to the Register
  • Investigation and disciplinary hearings at work
  • Criminal investigation and proceedings
  • Police cautions
  • DBS [Disclosure and Barring Service] issues

Insight & remediation training & coaching

Insight Works Training will help give you a clear and easy to follow understanding of the regulatory process, explanation of the central role of impairment, how to approach insight and remediation, how to evidence this at your hearing and a directed approach to presenting your learning with evidence in writing and verbally.  

Kings View are proud to be rated ‘excellent’ by our clients.  Our commitment to client care is genuine in both seeking the very best outcomes for our clients, but also ensuring we do what we can to support them through the process. 

Contact me today for a no obligation and free telephone consultation about your case in the knowledge that you are speaking to one of the best in the business.

Insight Works Training

Disclaimer: This article is for guidance purposes only. Kings View Chambers accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken, or not taken, in relation to this article. You should seek the appropriate legal advice having regard to your own particular circumstances.