Dear R West
Your information request – IR1-2731914240
Thank you for your email of 1 July asking for information relating to the GMC’s fitness to practise process and the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPT). I’ve considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
I can’t provide this information under the FOIA. This is because of the amount of data you’ve asked for and the work that would be involved. Under the FOIA there’s an exemption for requests where it would cost the public authority more than £450 to process - equivalent to two and half days’ work (18 hours).
The cost of your request
To estimate the cost we can take into account determining, locating, retrieving and extracting the information requested. For question 6 we cannot easily extract the number of tribunals in the last 5 years where witnesses were called to give evidence. To identify tribunals where witnesses were called in person, or where witnesses statements were used in the proceedings we would need to manually check through each record to confirm whether it’s within the scope of your request.
We’ve done a basic search and estimate that even if we were just to provide data for one year, this would exceed 18 hours’ work. In 2019 there were 257 MPT hearings; if it took 10 minutes to check the papers for each hearing, this would total 42.8 hours. Based on an hourly rate of £25 per hour (which is set by the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004) it would cost us £1,070. Your entire request would therefore cost significantly in excess of the ‘appropriate limit’ to process.
Under the FOIA, the specific exemption which we believe applies is at section 12. This states that we are not required to comply with a request if we estimate that the cost of doing so, or the cost of complying with any part of it, would exceed the appropriate limit.
Your right to appeal
If you would like to appeal this decision please write to [GMC request email]. Please note that we will only usually consider appeals received within 40 working days of our response. You can also appeal to the Information Commissioner.
Information available on the GMC website
Outside of our obligations under the FOIA, I can direct you to some information that may answer some of your other questions: on our website you can use the Data Explorer tool (Fitness to Practise – Complaints and Volumes). Also I’ve attached statistics on MPT outcomes.
You may wish to submit a fresh FOI request. I should point out in respect of questions 7 and 8, the regulatory role of the GMC and MPTS is not to uphold or reject a complaint, or provide a resolution for patients. Although our investigations arise from complaints we receive, our purpose is to determine whether or not a doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired and to take appropriate measures in the interests of patient safety.
I hope that is helpful.
Information Access Officer
General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street
Manchester M3 3AW
From: R West [mailto:[FOI #673714 email]]
Sent: 01 July 2020 13:02
To: FOI <[email address]>
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Number of complaints made and investigations carried out
Dear General Medical Council,
Please can you provide the following information for the last 5 years if possible
1. The number of complaints made against Doctors
2. The number of complaints that were initially reviewed and were not thought to need to be investigated further.
3. The number of complaints where an expert's opinion was sought and gained by the GMC
4. The number of complaints that were closed by case handlers following an expert opinion.
5. The number of complaints that resulted in the complaints being dealt with under the Medical Tribunal Fitness to Practice procedures.
6. The number of Tribunals where witnesses were called to give evidence.
7. The number of Fitness to practice tribunal hearings that ending where the complaints were not upheld.
8. The number of Fitness to practice tribunal hearings that ended in the complaints being upheld.
9. The number of Doctors erased from the Medical Register as a result of a Tribunal hearing.
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