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Medical practitioners tribunals - how they work

  1. Medical practitioners tribunals
  2. Appeals

What they do

These tribunals decide if a doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired and what action, if any, is needed.

How they work

The General Medical Council (GMC) can bring a case against the doctor following an investigation into a concern raised to them.

These hearings are public, except where they're considering confidential information, or information about a doctor’s health.

Who makes the decisions?

Tribunal members make the decisions. We appoint three to each hearing and there must be at least one medical and one non-medical member.

Legal advice

Most hearings will have a legally qualified chair who sits as part of the tribunal and advises on points of law. Some cases may have a legal assessor who advises the tribunal on points of law, but plays no part in decision making.

Tribunal decisions

A tribunal decides if:

  • the facts alleged have been found proved
  • the doctor's fitness to practise is impaired
  • any action should be taken.

A tribunal can:

  • take no action
  • accept undertakings offered by the doctor if agreed with the GMC
  • place conditions on the doctor's registration
  • suspend the doctor's registration
  • erase the doctor’s name from the medical register, so they can no longer practise.

Tribunals refer to our guidance when making a decision. This makes sure decisions are made consistently.


If a tribunal concludes that the doctor’s fitness to practise is not impaired, it may issue a warning to the doctor. This is not a sanction and does not restrict the doctor’s practice.


A review hearing takes place to decide if a doctor's fitness to practise is still impaired and whether they are safe to return to unrestricted practice.

A review 'on the papers' is possible at this stage, if both the doctor and the GMC agree on a proposed outcome. A decision is taken without the attendance of the doctor and the GMC.

Applications for restoration

If a doctor's name is erased from the medical register, they can apply to restore their name after five years. A tribunal will decide if a doctor can return to unrestricted practice. 

Non-compliance hearings

In some cases, the GMC may ask a doctor to undergo an assessment as part of their investigation.

This can be for:

  • health
  • performance
  • knowledge of English language.

They may also ask the doctor to provide information.

Where a doctor refuses, the GMC may refer them to us for a non-compliance hearing.