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Content updated on Wednesday 6 May 2020

Information updated with details of how we're running hearings from July 2020.

FAQs on hearings during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

In response to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic our hearing centre is closed and many of our hearings have been postponed. 

We are committed to protecting the public and as such are running a number of hearings remotely. We are working to relist the hearings that have been affected by the pandemic, where appropriate. This page answers some commonly asked questions. 

For more about how we're running hearings at this time please read our full statement.

Postponed hearings

My MPT hearing has been postponed, what happens next?

We have begun to relist some hearings taking into account the criteria explained below. As we have a high volume of hearings to reschedule, this process is likely to take several weeks. Parties will be contacted when we are ready to make arrangements for individual hearings.

When will an MPT hearing be relisted?

We are unable to say at this stage when individual hearings will be relisted, but we are working closely with parties to set new dates and public listings will be advertised on our website in the usual way. Relisting a hearing is dependent on a number of factors, including the availability of all those involved in the hearing.

We're currently listing hearings, taking into account the criteria explained below. 

What about part-heard MPT hearings?

Concluding part-heard hearings is a priority. Where a part-heard hearing has already been allocated dates to reconvene after 6 July 2020, those dates have not been postponed by our Case Management team and remain listed to proceed as scheduled. 

For part-heard hearings where dates to reconvene have not yet been allocated, parties will be contacted when we are ready to make arrangements for those hearings. 

What about other MPT hearing types?

We're carefully looking at how best to reschedule postponed hearings, taking into account the criteria explained below. Parties will be contacted when we are ready to make arrangements for individual hearings, including new and review, restoration and non-compliance hearings. 

Can I submit comments about the relisting of my MPT hearing? 

Our Case Management team will contact parties when we are ready to make arrangements for individual hearings, and parties will have an opportunity to comment at that time. However, if parties or their representatives need to raise any urgent issues in the meantime, they may send any comments in writing to an MPTS Case Manager at MPTSCaseManagementTeam@mpts-uk.org.

Do case management directions still apply to postponed MPT hearings?

Case management deadlines no longer apply to postponed hearings. Once a hearing has been relisted a revised preparation timetable will be put in place. Parties wishing to request case management directions on a specific issue should set this out in writing, to MPTSCaseManagementTeam@mpts-uk.org, and an MPTS Case Manager will review it.

I've made or am responding to an application on a postponed MPT hearing. What happens now?

Applications in progress will not be considered at this time for postponed hearings. Applications will need to be renewed when the hearing is relisted and the responding party will then be given time to respond.

Scheduled hearings

Are MPT review hearings still going ahead?

Yes. We’re holding MPT review hearings via Skype for Business and on the papers. These hearings will proceed as scheduled unless parties are told otherwise by our case management team.

I have an IOT hearing scheduled. Is this still going ahead?

Interim orders tribunals are still going ahead via Skype for Business or on the papers. Parties may send queries in writing to iotadmin@mpts-uk.org.

My MPT hearing is still listed to proceed after 6 July 2020. What do the postponements mean for me?

Parties in all postponed cases have been informed, so if you have not heard from us, your hearing remains listed to proceed as scheduled.
Case management deadlines still apply to hearings which remain scheduled. If parties are unable to comply with a deadline, they should set out any request for an extension in writing, to MPTSCaseManagementTeam@mpts-uk.org, and an MPTS Case Manager will review it. 

I need to make an application about a hearing. When will it be considered?

Applications related to hearings should be made in writing and will be considered by an MPTS Case Manager at the earliest opportunity. Due to the current volume of queries there will be a delay in responding to applications. Applications should be sent to MPTSCaseManagementTeam@mpts-uk.org

I've been asked to take part in a virtual hearing. How does this work? 

Virtual hearings are being held using Skype for Business. Parties taking part in a virtual hearing should read this guidance on how to set up Skype for Business and advice on attending a virtual hearing. 

I am not sure if my personal circumstances will enable me to participate in the hearing using Skype for Business. Can you help?

We can provide support before and during the hearing to help parties access Skype for Business (a free app) so they can participate effectively. The tribunal will make sure appropriate support is provided to ensure a fair hearing. If you have a disability, we may be able to make adjustments to the way we approach a virtual hearing at the request of anyone participating in a hearing. We consider these requests on a case by case basis in the same way we do for all hearings.

If specific reasonable adjustments are required please contact us before the hearing, following the instructions in the notice of hearing letter you receive from us. Further information on our commitment to equality and diversity can be found here and information about the built-in accessibility support features of Skype for Business can be found here

Hearings without a date

I’ve made or need to make a joinder application for a hearing that isn’t listed. When will it be considered?

Joinder applications for hearings which aren’t listed yet are being processed as quickly as possible. However, due to the current volume of queries there will be a delay in responding.

Are you receiving new referrals?

Yes. New MPT referrals are continuing to be sent through, but we aren’t able to make arrangements to list new MPT hearings at the moment.

Public hearings

Can I observe a virtual hearing?

We remain committed to openness and transparency during these unprecedented times, but virtual hearings cannot be observed. We’ll continue publishing details of all upcoming hearings with public allegations and our tribunals' full decisions on our website.

Members of the press can get in touch with the press office for up to date decisions throughout a hearing in the normal way.
Email: pressoffice@mpts-uk.org
Phone: 0161 250 6868

What is a hearing ‘on the papers’?

In some cases where both parties agree on a proposed outcome it may be possible for the case to proceed on the papers. This means the case will be reviewed by a tribunal chair, in most cases, without the need for the doctor or the GMC to attend a full hearing. Reviews on the papers are not new, but we will be extending their use where possible during this time.

More information about reviews on the papers.

Our listing criteria

  • Interim order status - Where an interim order of suspension or conditions has been imposed on a doctor’s registration, the hearing will be given priority and a listing allocated prior to the expiry date of the order where reasonably possible
  • Part-heard hearings - Priority will be given to concluding part-heard hearings as soon as possible, taking into account the availability of the parties, witnesses and relevant tribunal members
  • Length of time since referral/ previous postponed hearings - Priority will be given to hearings which have been waiting longest to be heard, including those that were postponed shortly before they were due to be heard in March and April
  • Preparedness - Hearings will be allocated earlier dates where both parties are fully prepared, or where very limited further preparation time is required.

Both doctors and their representatives and the General Medical Council will have the opportunity to make relevant submissions to the MPTS as part of this process. 

We will also initially prioritise hearings of shorter duration and with fewer witnesses, as these hearings are more likely to be able to run as virtual hearings if necessary.