Mon 06 Jul 2015

Remediation of misconduct in professional regulatory proceedings

A recently reported decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service Fitness to Practise Panel (Whatley v General Medical Council) is an excellent example of a situation where despite charges amounting to serious misconduct being admitted and/or proved the registrant's fitness to practise was nonetheless found not to be impaired.

The registrant was a Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist.  The Fitness to Practise Panel found that on 10 March 2011 and 15 March 2011 the registrant had failed in a number of respects to provide good clinical care to a patient in respect of a Gastroscopy with oesophageal dilatation procedure.  The Fitness to Practise Panel determined that certain aspects of the registrant's conduct constituted serious misconduct.

However, having considered the issues of insight, remediation and the likelihood of repetition and being mindful of its duty to protect the public and the wider public interest the Fitness to Practise Panel found that as at 11 June 2015 the registrant's fitness to practise was not impaired.

Whilst the registrant's care of his patient in March 2011 had fallen short of the standards expected of a reasonably competent Consultant Gastroenterologist there has been a robust overhaul of the systems in place at the hospital and the registrant had reflected upon his clinical practice and made the appropriate adjustments. The Panel had regard to the significant number of procedures the registrant had carried out without further untoward incidents since 2011, including 930 colonoscopies and 1,896 gastroscopies and the positive feedback the registrant had received from colleagues and peers. The Fitness to Practise Panel were satisfied that the registrant was not a danger to patients and that his previous misconduct had been fully remediated.

Registrants should not despair when referred to their professional regulatory body and should not immediately assume the worst.  Every effort should be made to remediate any misconduct through reflection on better practise, re-training, performance improvement and demonstrating good practice in the workplace going forward.  Even if a registrant has been dismissed from their job, or suspended from practice, they should make every effort prior to their hearing to keep abreast of developments in their profession, undertake any re-training and if possible work in an analogous, unregulated role.  All this will go towards remediation of previous misconduct.

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