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9th January 2024

GMC response to our letter on doctors convicted for offences linked to action on climate and nature

In December, we wrote to the GMC asking them to allow doctors appearing before them for offences linked to protests on climate change and nature to explain why they have taken the actions they have. We were grateful for a prompt response.

Dear Dr Smith

Thank you for getting in touch on behalf of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change. 

As you are aware, our overriding objective is the protection of the public which includes maintaining public confidence in the profession. We are required in law to consider any complaint that is received by us, but we only take forward serious or persistent departures from our standards which pose a risk to patients or public confidence.

We consider each case on its own merits and we always consider any relevant context we are aware of. If a case passes our triage stage and proceeds to a full investigation resulting in allegations being put to a doctor, we always give the doctor (or their legal representative) the opportunity to respond fully to those allegations before making a decision on the appropriate outcome for the case.

However, please be aware that we are required in law to refer directly to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service a doctor who has received a custodial sentence (whether immediate or suspended) as a result of a criminal conviction, for a Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT) to consider the case. The Tribunal will consider all the evidence before it and decide if the doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired and if so, consider whether to impose a sanction in accordance with the Sanctions guidance.

Best wishes

Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen, Chair, and Charlie Massey, Chief Executive and Registrar

General Medical Council