131442 - Doctors: Sexual Offences (Answered)

Mrs Anne Main
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the ability of the General Medical Council (GMC) to investigate concerns about the sexual misconduct of doctors working in the NHS; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of lifting the GMC's five-year rule on investigations relating to such misconduct.

Stephen Barclay

All United Kingdom registered doctors are expected to meet the professional standards set out in the General Medical Council’s (GMC) Good Medical Practice.

If an allegation of misconduct is made about a doctor who may not meet the professional standards required, the GMC has a duty to investigate and take action to safeguard the health and well-being of the public. In serious cases fitness-to-practise proceedings can result in doctors being removed from the medical register.

The GMC has confirmed that if it considers an allegation to be in the public interest, it will investigate no matter how much time has passed.

Under s.35CC(5) of the Medical Act, an allegation which is more than five years old will only be investigated where it is in the public interest to do so. Five years is considered a reasonable time frame for an allegation to be brought. After that time there may be practical issues for investigation, for example the accessibility of evidence. It would not be appropriate for the regulators to use their resources on cases where there is limited evidence when there is no public interest in investigating.