E-Regulator: Uruakpa v General Medical Council (unreported)

11 June 2012

CASE SUMMARY

Decision date: 10 May 2012

The sanction of erasure was upheld where a Registrant continually failed to undertake performance assessments, as required by interim conditions placed on his registration.

Doctor Uraukpa (U) was a registered Doctor who appealed against a decision of the Fitness to Practise Panel (‘the Panel’) of the General Medical Council (GMC) to impose a sanction of erasure.

After initial concerns were raised about U’s performance, U agreed to submit to performance assessments in respect of interim conditions to his registration. U subsequently failed to comply on three occasions and in August 2009 he was suspended for 12 months. He was notified that a review hearing would take place in April 2011 and that a performance assessment would need to be done before that date. However, U failed to attend two further performance assessments.

The Panel dealt with the case on the basis of section 35D of the Medical Act 1983. They found that U’s fitness to practise was impaired. In light of U’s continued lack of cooperation and insight and U’s disregard for the GMC as a regulatory body, they imposed a sanction of erasure.

U appealed the Panel’s decision on four grounds. The High Court dismissed his appeal on the basis that:

  1. The sanction was lawful and the Panel were correct to determine the case by reference to section 35D of the Medical Act 1983. The Panel’s powers were not limited to suspension or conditional registration and therefore they were entitled to impose erasure by virtue of the powers set out in schedule 4 paragraph 5A(5) of the Medical Act 1983 (Amendment) Order 2002;

  2. Although U sought to rely on documents relating to the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB) standards, the Panel were correct to deem them inadmissible on the basis that they were irrelevant to the matter of whether U’s fitness to practise was impaired;
  3. The Panel was not unfair in its approach to U’s performance assessment; correspondence from the GMC showed that U was notified of the basis of the performance assessments and they had not acted in breach of its duty or behaved in an unlawful manner;

  4. U was given sufficient notice of the review hearing and its grounds by way of a letter from the GMC stating that his suspension was to be reviewed and his fitness to practise assessed. Although the letter did not state in explicit terms the purpose of the review, the GMC’s letter was sufficient because it had furnished U with a copy of the previous determination and this was referenced in the letter.

This case highlights the importance Court’s will place on a failure to comply with interim conditions; the severe sanction of erasure was upheld and in turn compliance with conditions set under similar circumstances is promoted. 

By Sian Jones 

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