Over the last 10 years the GMC has made wide range reforms to the fitness to practise process, including to the way in which it manages cases where a doctor has a health condition. In 2016, Professor Louis Appleby, a leading independent mental health expert, was appointed to advise on how the regulator could make its approach more sensitive, supportive and compassionate to the needs of doctors. This led to a programme of work to implement the recommendations aimed at reducing the impact and stress of the GMC’s processes. The final outstanding recommendation was recently implemented in March when the GMC published a report on doctors who have died while under investigation or during a period of monitoring. Recently, the GMC has also updated its documents to be clearer about when the regulator needs to consider the impact of a health condition, and has republished its support guide for doctors as part of the GMC’s ongoing drive to reduce the impact and stress of its processes.
Our next healthcare seminar will cover the work undertaken by the GMC and that to come and the support provided to healthcare professionals by NHS Practitioner Health.
Chair – Katie Costello, BLM
Katie is a partner at BLM Law, and has been practising in healthcare law for 30 years, specialising in professional regulatory and disciplinary cases, inquests, and crime. During that time, she has been routinely instructed by defence organisations, insurers, and private individuals in some complex cases, often involving multiple jeopardy for the clients, and often cases with national media attention. Katie has a particular interest in the impact of regulatory and other proceedings on an individual’s mental health, and in 2019 was successful in obtaining a High Court order for anonymisation of a very unwell doctor, despite serious MPTS findings having been made (R (on the application of Dr X) v General Medical Council 2019 EWHC 493 Admin). In her criminal practice, Katie has defended healthcare professionals against charges of sexual misconduct, gross negligence manslaughter, perverting the course of justice, and fraud. A recent case involved acting for one of four anaesthetists charged with manslaughter, and achieving a dismissal of that case before trial on grounds of insufficient evidence.
Gemma Barnes – Policy and Planning Manager, General Medical Council
Gemma is a Policy Manager in the Fitness to Practise Policy Team at the General Medical Council (GMC). She works closely with internal and external stakeholders to deliver policy initiatives across the Fitness to Practise Directorate and Medical Practitioner Tribunals Service. Gemma has over 10 years’ experience in healthcare regulation, having also worked as a solicitor in the GMC’s in-house legal team. Committed to fairness and excellence, Gemma is a Reader for the Queen’s Anniversary Trust Prizes for Higher and Further Education.
Lucy Warner – Chief Executive NHS Practitioner Health Programme
Lucy is Chief Executive of the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, a confidential primary care led service for health and care professionals across England and Scotland, with a network of more than 300 clinicians supporting the service. Lucy has over 30 years NHS experience ranging across many aspects of health care, working with practices, local and national teams and including a stint in Gibraltar.
Lucy has previously worked with NHS England as the Responding to Concerns Lead, focusing on concerns in the medical workforce and with the NHS Revalidation Support Team supporting the implementation of appraisal and revalidation for doctors in England.
Practitioner Health is at the heart of the NHS England and NHS Scotland response to workforce wellbeing, providing online support, webinars and resources as well as direct mental health treatment available to 1.6m NHS and care staff across the nations.