Arriving at the hearing centre
On the day the hearing begins, you should aim to arrive at the hearing centre at least half an hour before it starts.
Please come to the reception desk of the MPTS on the seventh floor of St James’s Buildings. A member of MPTS staff will meet you and take you to your private waiting room. The waiting room will be available to you throughout the hearing. Free hot drinks and water are available.
If you’d find it useful, you may be able to visit an empty hearing room, if one is available to look at the layout before your hearing starts. Please speak to a tribunal assistant if you would like to do this.
Public access to the hearing
Members of the press and public can attend all hearings, except those that relate solely to a doctor’s health. Copies of any public decisions are made available to members of the press and public while attending a hearing. The press may also ask to receive the tribunal’s public decisions via email if they are not in attendance.
In certain circumstances you or your representative, or the GMC’s representative, can apply for all or part of the hearing to be held in private– see rule 41(2) of GMC (Fitness to Practise) Rules 2004.
There will be seats at one end of the hearing room where the press and public sit to watch the hearing. Sometimes the tribunal will ask the press, public and witnesses to leave the hearing room if there are any confidential matters to discuss.
Who will be at the hearing
The tribunal and tribunal members
The tribunal is made up of three tribunal members, one of whom will act as chair. There will be at least one doctor (medically qualified with a licence to practise) and at least one lay person (not medically qualified). The tribunal members hear the evidence and make decisions on a case.
The chair will make sure that:
- the hearing follows our processes.
- people appearing at the hearing are treated with courtesy and consideration.
- time is used effectively.
Legally qualified chair
The chair of your hearing may be a legally qualified chair. The legally qualified chair (an experienced solicitor or barrister) will carry out all of the duties and responsibilities of a chair, as set out above. They will also be required to advise their fellow tribunal members on questions of law as to evidence and procedure.
A legal assessor will be present if there is not a legally qualified chair. The legal assessor is an experienced solicitor or barrister who advises the tribunal on questions of law as to evidence and procedure. All advice is given in public, and you or your representative, and the GMC’s representative, can make submissions in response to this advice. The tribunal can accept or reject the legal assessor’s advice.
The legal assessor accompanies the tribunal when it is making decisions in camera, but takes no part in the decision-making process.
The solicitor or barrister who presents the case against the doctor.
An MPTS staff member who is responsible for administration during the hearing.
An MPTS staff member who is responsible for assisting with administration during the hearing.
The solicitor, barrister or other representative presenting your case or speaking on your behalf. If you don’t have a representative, you can present your own case to the tribunal.
A member of your family, a friend or a colleague. During the hearing, your supporter sits in the public seating area (not at the doctor’s table).
Your supporter could also be a doctor who provides independent, confidential and emotional peer support. They can accompany you for up to two days of the hearing. Please see the Doctor Support Service.
People who may be called to give evidence by the doctor or their representative or by the GMC’s representative. They have to take an oath or affirmation, and answer questions from the GMC’s representative, the doctor’s representative, a self-represented doctor or the tribunal.
If you choose to give evidence at your hearing, you will become a witness.
If you are unrepresented at the hearing and the allegation is based on facts that are sexual in nature, you are not allowed to question any of the alleged victims without their written consent. We will appoint and pay for a barrister to cross-examine the witnesses on your behalf. But we will not pay for a barrister for any other part of the hearing.
A volunteer from the charity Victim Support, who provides support to some witnesses, on request, during their evidence.
At the start of the hearing
At the start of the hearing a member of MPTS staff will take you to the hearing room and show you where to sit. We will give you a diagram showing who will be in the hearing and where they will sit. If you would like to familiarise yourself with the layout of the hearing room before the hearing, there is a virtual tour on our website.
The chair will introduce themselves and the other people in the hearing room, and explain the tribunal’s role and how the hearing will work.