20-08-2013

R ( on the Application of Jackson) v General Medical Council [2013] All ER (D) 99 (Aug)

This case concerned a Fitness to Practise hearing against a 67 year old doctor. The allegations included misconduct and deficient professional performance and a health condition. The doctor applied for voluntary erasure. He had been suspended in 2007 following the complaints by patients coming to light. At the time of the FTP hearing he was no longer fit for work and had no intention of returning to work as a doctor. The hearing was listed for 45 days. The doctor argued that he was not medically fit and therefore could not participate in a hearing of such even if he had Counsel to assist him. The Panel convened to hear the application for voluntary erasure and issued two decisions one in private referring to medical information and one in public. Their decision was to refuse the application for voluntary erasure and the doctor appealed.

The appeal was allowed.

In this case the Panel had, when  giving reasons on their findings in relation to the Doctor’s ability to give instructions and participate in a hearing had been inadequate and therefore unlawful. It had not explained how they had arrived at the decision that the doctor was able to take part. It was a settled principle that there is a strong public interest in stopping proceedings if someone is unable to take part. Equally a Panel should be very cautious in proceeding in the absence of the defendant where the reason for the absence is ill health or incapacity.

 

The court also found however that in respect of the decision to deny voluntary erasure on the evidence there had been no error .