Fitness to Practice proceedings for doctors at Winterbourne View

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Dear General Medical Council,

Please could you provide me with information on any disciplinary proceedings concerning doctors at Winterbourne View hospitals, which took place following the Panorama expose of abuse at the hospital in 2011. In particular:

1. Did the GMC pro-actively investigate any doctors for their Fitness to Practice, without waiting for a referral from their employer or another organisation?

2. Were any doctors from Winterbourne View hospital subject to Fitness to Practice proceedings?

3. If any doctors from Winterbourne View hospital were subject to Fitness to Practice proceedings, what were the outcomes of those proceedings? Are any still ongoing?

4. Please could you provide any (suitably redacted) reports from the outcomes of those proceedings.

Yours faithfully,

Lucy Series

FOI, General Medical Council

Dear Ms Series

Your information request F13/5542/ME

Thank you for your email asking for information about Fitness to Practice
Hearings regarding the doctors at Winterbourne View Hospital. 

We will look at your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA). We will give you the information as soon as possible, normally
within the 20 working-day limit set by the FOIA.

Please note that there may be some information which we cannot release to
you under the FOIA. If this is the case, we will let you know why and
state the relevant exemptions given in the FOIA. We will also give you
information about how to appeal our decision.

I have allocated your request to Mark Ellen. If you have any questions,
please contact him on 0161 923 6347 or email [1][email address]. 

Yours sincerely

Sadie Jones

Information Assistant

[email address]

0161 250 6889

General Medical Council

3 Hardman Street

Manchester

M3 3AW

 

show quoted sections

Mark Ellen (0161 923 6347), General Medical Council

Dear Ms Series

Ref: IAT/ME/F13/5542

Thank you for your e-mail of 27 June 2013.

I have now had the opportunity to look at your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

I should first provide some background regarding how we handle complaints made against doctors. When we receive a complaint about a doctor an initial decision is made by our Fitness to Practise Directorate as to whether an investigation should be conducted. If an investigation takes place, on completion of the investigation, the complaint will be considered by two senior GMC staff (one medical and one non-medical). They can conclude the case, issue a warning, agree undertakings with the doctor or refer the case to a Fitness to Practise (FTP) Panel for a hearing. FTP Panel hearings are usually held in public, although may be held in private if discussing a doctor’s health or any other confidential matter. It is at the hearing stage that details regarding the case may be made publicly available. Outcomes of FTP Panel hearings are published on our website. Details of any current restrictions on a doctor’s practise are also made publicly available. Further information about our investigation process can also be found on our website at www.gmc-uk.org

I can confirm that there are no GMC cases in respect of the events at Winterbourne View that have been heard by a FTP Panel.

As to whether we hold information about doctors concerned with Winterbourne View, which have not resulted in a hearing or restrictions on their registration, I must confirm that we are under no obligation to provide this information. Therefore we are unable to confirm the existence or non-existence of any such complaints against these doctors. This is because we believe this information to be subject to the following exemption listed in the FOIA:

Section 40(5)(b)(i) of the FOIA states that the duty to confirm or deny whether information is held does not arise if the act of confirmation or denial would breach any of the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). We believe that it is reasonable for doctors to expect that, if complaints are made against them which are not progressed to a public hearing or do not result in any action upon their registration, whether or not such complaints had been made would be kept confidential and would not be released into the public domain. Therefore, we believe that to confirm or deny the existence or non-existence of any other complaints made against these doctors would breach the principles of the DPA.

You have the right of appeal against my decision not to provide the information you have requested. If you wish to appeal you should set out in writing your grounds for doing so and e-mail Julian Graves, Information Access Team Manager, at
[email address]. You also have a further right of appeal to the Information Commissioner. If applicable, Mr Graves will provide you with details of this further right of appeal.

Yours sincerely
Mark Ellen

Mark Ellen
Information Access Team
General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street
Manchester M3 3AW
Direct Line: 0161 923 6347

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Dear Mark Ellen,

Thank you very much for your response, and for clarifying the FTP hearings procedure, this is very helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Lucy Series

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