The GMC are undergoing some changes to their fitness to practice procedures at the moment. It had been intended that the GMC would restrict itself to investigation and prosecution, with adjudication being taken up by a separate body, but this proposal, sadly, has now been shelved so the new changes are going to be little more than cosmetic.
The GMC will continue to fulfil the roles of investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. So doctors who come to the attention of the GMC can expect to be treated as fairly and impartially as Captain Blackadder, the Flanders pigeon murderer. Add to that the fact that the GMC only have to satisfy themselves of guilt to the standards of a civil court, and not to criminal standards. In other words, to their own satisfaction.
Their attitude towards doctors can be summed up as “you are guilty until proved innocent, and if by some miracle you do escape conviction then you are still guilty but you just got off with it this time matey.” Indeed a fellow blogger has likened referral of a colleague to the GMC as like handing him over to the Gestapo.
In fact it seems they find the whole process of a hearing a tedious waste of time before getting to the sentence. It is no exaggeration to say that sometimes the verdict and sentence are determined before the hearing, a process known as “draft determination.”
This attitude is illustrated by their latest ruse, where they intend to “encourage doctors to accept proposed sanctions .....without the need to refer the case for a hearing.” In other words if you confess, and accept punishment, you can save yourself the bother of a trial, rather like the Spanish inquisition. Despite their ludicrous assertions that this is somehow to the doctor’s benefit it is in fact just a way for them to screw you without having to go through the bothersome and tedious business of finding some evidence.
My advice to anyone presented with this option is NOT to confess to anything. Make them go through the hearing process, it is your one chance to present your case and have everything in the open. And if it still goes against you you can then take it further, to the high court where the bastards consistently lose. And by calling their bluff you will probably find they are the ones who back down, knowing they have bugger all.