Injecting Some Reality Into The Prospects Of Appealing A GMC Fitness To Practice Panel Determination

The recent decision of Mrs Justice Lang highlights the hurdles a doctor faces in seeking to successfully appeal a decision of the GMC's Fitness to Practice Panel ('FPP'). It also emphasises a general reluctance of the courts to interfere with determinations of the FPP.

The case

Dr Cornish, a consultant anaesthetist at Yeovil District Hospital, had been struck off the register. The FPP had found that his fitness to practice was impaired on a number of grounds including a previous conviction for theft of drugs from his employer, misconduct (for taking drugs from the hospital and administering them on Trust premises and at home) and his adverse physical or mental health (he had abused medicinal drugs such as Fentanyl and Morphine, obtained in the course of his employment, for many years and had also been diagnosed with Opioid Dependence Syndrome).

Dr Cornish appealed against the FPP's determination that his name be erased from the medical register, and against the FPP's determination on the facts. He did not contest the FPP's finding that his fitness to practice was impaired on the grounds of his previous conviction, his misconduct or his adverse physical and mental health. He did, however, appeal against the FPP's determination that he self-administered drugs within the hospital buildings of Yeovil District Hospital.

At the hearing, he admitted to self-administering drugs in the hospital car park, in his car and at his home, but he disputed the finding of fact that he had also self-administered within the hospital itself (in his evidence to the FPP, Dr Cornish accepted that if he was found to be taking drugs whilst at work in the hospital buildings, it would impact on his future employability).

The FPP's finding of fact

The FPP concluded that it did not consider Dr Cornish to be a credible witness given that he had consistently lied about his drug history. Furthermore, and by his own admission, Dr Cornish had told the FPP that at one stage his drug taking had become chaotic and there were times where he could not wait 20 minutes to get home to self-administer drugs. In light of this, the FPP considered that he could not have had the self-control not to self-administer drugs within the hospital. Dr Cornish had also been found to be storing drug paraphernalia in his hospital locker.

The FPP was therefore satisfied that it could reasonably infer, on the balance of probabilities, that Dr Cornish had self administered drugs within the hospital...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT