Coronavirus (COVID-19): How we're running hearings
In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic we have been considering how we can best run MPTS hearings over the coming months.
Patient safety is our top priority, so throughout the pandemic we have continued to review existing sanctions and consider interim restrictions where necessary. These hearings have been heard virtually or have been considered by a Legally Qualified Chair on the papers.
Between 19 March and the end of April we ran 134 virtual hearings and considered a further 68 cases on the papers.
At the same time, we have been working to increase the number of virtual hearings we can hold.
Our hearing centre is scheduled to reopen on 6 July 2020, however the current government restrictions mean that there remains uncertainty about whether, and to what extent, this will prove possible. We will continue to act in accordance with the advice from the UK government and Public Health England.
In response to this uncertainty we have postponed the majority of MPT hearings currently scheduled in our hearings calendar, other than MPT reviews and part-heard hearings due to reconvene. We will also continue to review existing sanctions and consider new interim restrictions.
This will allow us to focus on listing hearings on a prioritised basis, using the following 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 (including preliminary hearings and hearings due to reconvene at the impairment or sanction stages), as these hearings are more likely to be able to run as virtual hearings if necessary.
The required postponement and complex listing activity will take time and we would appreciate your continued patience as we undertake this process.