Legal Defence for Doctors

Our regulatory lawyers have been advising and representing doctors for many years; having worked in health care regulation for over 40 years, we know the landscape, the organisations and the politics. We are independently recognised by the legal directories as leaders in the field. We have a proven track record for securing better than expected outcomes for doctors facing complaints before the General Medical Council, particularly in cases of alleged sexual misconduct and dishonesty. 

The medical profession faces the twin pressures of increasingly pervasive regulation and an increased public appetite for seeking redress. During their careers, many doctors will face a GMC complaint or an allegation brought against them which, if serious, may threaten their reputation and ability to earn a living. Specialist legal advice is essential to ensure the best possible outcome when dealing with a General Medical Council (GMC) investigation, National Performers’ List issue or medical school fitness to practise investigation.

We have a sound understanding of the standards set by the GMC, such as Good Medical Practice, and the duties and responsibilities placed on doctors in their clinical everyday practice, as well as in their personal lives. We recognise the stress that can follow once a doctor is notified of an investigation or a hearing before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS); we are available outside of your work hours to provide reassurance and support, as well as legal advice. 

Many doctors fear that the involvement of the GMC will inexorably result in their case being referred to a public hearing before the MPTS.  Our experience and indeed the statistics do not support this fear. The focus of our early work with our doctor clients is to get cases closed at the ‘Case Examiners’ stage; recognition, genuine insight and targeted remediation will often be key. Early engagement with the GMC’s investigation and the provision of a detailed and clearly reasoned response at this early stage can secure an unexpectedly favourable outcome.

Our clients are individually supported, right from the beginning of our instruction and assisted to understand the process they are involved in, their options and the best way through. Many of our doctor clients require the input of our specialist criminal, employment or reputation management teams (if they face a police investigation, suspension from work or possible adverse press reporting for example). We can quickly mobilise a diverse team of legal specialists to provide advice that looks at the problem from all angles. 

We do not work for any of the medical defence unions. Our doctor clients are insured or self-funded; often having been rejected by their indemnity provider. 

Recent work

We have acted in the following recent matters :

  • Represented a doctor in a GMC investigation concerning their registration status arising out of their involvement  in a television broadcast 
  • Advised a student doctor who was refused their medical certificate by a medical school 
  • Represented a doctor in a GMC investigation following an inquiry into a patient’s death on a cruise ship 
  • Advised in relation to a complaint made to the GMC about a doctor in respect of an inappropriate intimate examination of a patient and a failure to provide a chaperone 
  • Acted on behalf of doctor in a GMC investigation in relation to competence concerns regarding anaesthetic procedures
  • Represented a doctor in a GMC investigation, who was facing allegations of cheating in a formal exam
  • Represented a doctor in a GMC investigation who was accused of dishonesty in the course of revalidation  

 

Frequently asked questions

  1. I am subject to a GMC investigation, what shall I do?
  2. I have to attend an Interim Orders Tribunal, what shall I do?
  3. What happens at a MPTS hearing?
  4. Do I have to declare a criminal conviction to the GMC?
  5. I want to register with the GMC, how can you assist?
  6. I want to appeal an MPTS decision, how can you assist?

1. I am subject to a GMC investigation, what shall I do?

We understand how daunting an investigation by your regulatory body can be; we will do all we can to support you throughout the process. We have produced an overview of the investigation process which you can view here. Take legal advice early on; even before completing the Work Details Form; there is no substitute to getting it right from the start.

2. I have to attend an Interim Orders Tribunal. what shall I do?

The Interim Orders Tribunal does not make findings of fact. The purpose of the hearing is to decide whether a doctor’s practice needs to be restricted whilst an investigation is on-going. We will discuss with you the steps needed to prepare for this hearing, including collating relevant documents and evidence. Our experience helps us to accurately guide you as to the likely outcome and how to prepare for this.

3. What happens at a MPTS hearing?

Hearings are usually held in public, unless the allegation relates to the doctor’s health, or there is some other compelling reason why the hearing should be held in private. Prior to the formal opening of the hearing, any preliminary legal arguments may be raised and determined by the Tribunal.

The case will then be opened, by way of the charge being read and any admissions can be entered. Additionally, if any amendments to the charge are required, they will be dealt with at this stage.

Please see steps 7 to 8 of our brochure for further detail of what happens at a hearing which you can access here. We would advise you to be represented at an MPTS hearing as the Panel has the power to restrict your ability to practise in serious cases.

4. Do I have to declare a criminal conviction to the GMC?

It is a requirement of Good Medical Practice that doctors who are registered promptly advise the GMC if, anywhere in the world:

  • they have accepted a caution from the police or been criticised by an official inquiry (i.e. an Inquest)
  • they have been charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence
  • another professional body has made a finding against their registration as a result of fitness to practise procedures Doctors concerned if they need to tell the GMC about a criminal or civil matter, whether it falls into the categories above or not, should take legal advice.

5. I want to register with the GMC, how can you assist?

We regularly assist doctors in obtaining registration with the GMC. We can discuss your individual needs with you, and provide you with advice on the steps required.

6. I want to appeal an MPTS decision, how can you assist?

An appeal must be lodged with the relevant court within 28 days of the decision by the Tribunal and as such, you must act promptly. We will advise you on the merits of any appeal and assist you in preparing the grounds and in ensuring that the necessary documents are lodged with the court within the appropriate timescales. We will also ensure that you are appropriately represented at any hearing.

 

Training and CPD

We offer assistance to doctors in staying up to date with legal and ethical issues, recent examples include:

  • training and round table sessions with the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM) on ethical and legal issues, such as the duty of candour and GMC procedure 
  • experiential training in conjunction with UCL Partners on doctors appearing as witnesses
  • updates on issues affecting clinical practice such as confidentiality and consent
  • training on the GMC’s investigation process
  • shadowing scheme for trainee doctors, spending a day with our lawyers
  • training on issues relating to safeguarding

 

Insights

We regularly update on cases and matters of interest which affect doctors. Examples can be accessed here:

 

The team working on my case was first-rate: they gave lightning-fast responses and possessed unparalleled expert knowledge of my profession, its regulatory bodies and the law relating to professional discipline"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession,  2017

They are obviously very strong in the field of professional regulation"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession,  2016

They understand that there are risks in everything one does and we work together in mitigating the risks"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession,  2014

 The lawyers are able to present cases to an exceptional standard, in terms of both advocacy and legal principles"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession,  2014

When it comes to healthcare-related matters, Kingsley Napley LLP is a ‘force to be reckoned with’, and ‘shines as an exemplar of a quality practice"

Legal 500 UK 2013

Legal Defence for Doctors Insights

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Blogs

What’s the buzz?

Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline February 2018 - March 2018

Trauma: oh dear Dr Allerton

Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline December 2017 - January 2018

Lessons learned: the duty of candour in practical terms

High Court success for GMC after Medical Practitioners Tribunal fails to grapple with concerns about Doctor’s evidence

Press Round-Up: Regulatory and Professional Discipline October - November 2017

The ‘Knock-on effect’ of mental health: its implications for misconduct, impairment and sanction

Doctor Foster's ethics offer a dim view of the GP profession

Dishonesty – a look at sanction and the difficulties faced in seeking to show that fitness to practise is not impaired

GMC exercises its appeal power for the second time

The Performer's List – additional obligations for NHS GPs

An illustration of the GMC’s enhanced ability to protect the public

Manifesto watch: Health and social care regulation

The results are in: revalidation is working and is here to stay

Should GPs have to disclose previous convictions to patients?

Adverse employment disciplinary findings do not spell the end of your career

Good communication is as important as a doctor's clinical skills

Addressing the suicide risk of doctors under investigation: the GMC take action

Court rejects argument that actions which can be obviously detected rebut a finding of dishonesty

Appellant’s arguments fall flat in citing prejudice/bias by witnesses and the Panel

Judicial Review challenge to new rules in relation to advice given by legally qualified chairs to fellow panel members

Case Update: The Court of Appeal reaffirms the approach to be taken by Panels in deciding whether to proceed in the absence of a Registrant

Case update: Doctor successfully applies to quash a decision of the Assistant Registrar of the General Medical Council (GMC) to review a decision made by the Investigating Committee not to impose a warning

Case update: Dishonesty removes another doctor from the medical register

Junior doctors industrial action – fair pay, fair working hours

Does the new GMC power mean double jeopardy for doctors?

Case Update: High Court emphasises the seriousness of a finding of dishonesty against a professional

Professional regulatory hearings - looking ahead to 2016

GMC rethink required on anonymous complaints

Case update: A salutary reminder to regulated professionals and students on the use of social media

Professionals: beware the excesses of the Christmas party…

Let's not scapegoat the GMC

The GMC calls for tougher powers to check doctors' language skills

Homeopathy - to stay or to go on the NHS? That is the question

Will the new junior doctor contracts impact patient safety?

The Care Quality Commission's powers and process

New legal duty on professionals to report female genital mutilation

The correct approach to the GMC considering complaints over 5 years’ old

GMC sanctions and the indelibility of online information

The end of the duty of candour double standard?

What constitutes knowledge and the development of the Bolam principle

Warning! - GMC warnings may damage your reputation

Case Update: High Court terminate interim suspension of doctor facing gross negligence manslaughter charges following death of 6 year old child

GMC intervention: this time, it’s personal

The duty to explain risks to patients: a new exposition on consent from the Supreme Court

The GMC’s New Power of Appeal; an unnecessary and oppressive second bite of the cherry?

More faith in doctors and the General Medical Council needed

Overview of the General Medical Council’s fitness to practise investigation procedure

Case Update: High Court considers how to strike the appropriate balance between a registrant’s right to privacy as against the public interest in the regulator having access to relevant material

GMC Consultation on Draft Order – taking up the torch of the Law Commission reforms in the absence of government action?

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+44 (0)20 7814 1200

enquiries@kingsleynapley.co.uk

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