Medical practitioners tribunals - how they work
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.
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.
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 , 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.
In some cases, the GMC may ask a doctor to undergo an assessment as part of their investigation.
This can be for:
- 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.