There are rights of appeal against a final decision made by a medical practitioners tribunal for:  

  • The doctor
  • The General Medical Council
  • The Professional Standards Authority.

All appeals should be made to:

  • the Court of Session in Scotland if the doctor’s registered address is or would be in Scotland,
  • the High Court of Justice of Northern Ireland if the doctor’s registered address is or would be in Northern Ireland, or
  • the High Court of Justice in England and Wales in any other case.

In the absence of an appeal the tribunal’s decision shall take effect 28 days from the service of the notification. The doctor will be notified by letter of the date upon which the decision becomes effective.

Appeals are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.

If a case proceeds to a court hearing, the judge can:

  • dismiss the appeal,
  • allow the appeal, in whole or in part, and quash the relevant decision,
  • substitute for the direction or variation appealed against any other direction or variation which could have been given by the panel, or
  • refer the case to the Registrar of the General Medical Council for him to refer it to a medical practitioners tribunal to dispose of the case in accordance with the directions of the court.

The doctor

Any doctor who has been found impaired by a medical practitioners tribunal can appeal against the decision. The appeal is made under Section 40 of the Medical Act 1983 (amended) and the papers must be filed at the appropriate court (see below) within 28 days of the doctor being notified of the decision of the tribunal.

If a doctor wishes to challenge any other decision made by a tribunal, for example the issuing of a warning, this is done by way of judicial review.

The General Medical Council

The General Medical Council (GMC) can appeal against decisions made by a medical practitioners tribunal where it believes a relevant decision (a tribunal sanction, decision to restore a doctor to the register or an order in response to a doctor’s non-compliance with a fitness to practise investigation) is not sufficient to protect the public.

The Professional Standards Authority

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) reviews the decisions of the fitness to practise tribunals or panels of nine healthcare regulators in the UK.

It has the right under Section 29 of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002 (S29 references) to refer a medical practitioners tribunal’s decision to the relevant court if it believes it is not sufficient for the protection of the public.
The outcomes for an appeal by the PSA are the same as for an appeal by the doctor or the GMC (see above).

Further information is available on the PSA website.