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30May2016

NHS Doctor with a criminal record?

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Conor Johnstone

Drink driving is a serious criminal offence that can carry adverse implications on your employment, particularly if you work within the health service. Arguably, those implications may be even more severe if you are a medical doctor.

As a member of the British Medial Association or General Medical Council, you may have an ongoing duty to disclose any ‘criminal conviction’, even if you’ve not yet been convicted.

What is a ‘criminal conviction’?

  • spent sentences, cautions, and any matters currently under investigation
  • any conviction, caution or investigation in relation to a criminal offence
  • road traffic offences (speeding, parking fines) except where the matter has been dealt with by way of a ‘fixed penalty
  • notice’ as such matters do not constitute a criminal conviction
  • investigations or determinations by any of the other UK health regulatory bodies, as well as by a primary care organisation

What you must do

Inform the GMC without delay if, anywhere in the world, you:

  • formally admit to committing a criminal offence (for example by accepting a caution)
  • are charged with a criminal offence
  • are found guilty of a criminal offence
  • receive a warning for the possession of cannabis
  • are given an Anti-Social Behaviour Order whether as the result of civil or criminal proceedings
  • have had your registration restricted, or have been found guilty of an offence by another medical or other professional regulatory body

Why you must disclose

  • Fitness to practice
    Police forces inform the GMC when a doctor is charged with an offence, cautioned or convicted of a criminal offence. Doctors are also required to inform the GMC directly about these matters.
  • Fixed penalty notices
    The commission of offences dealt with by Penalty Notices for Disorder at the upper tier penalty level may raise questions about a doctor’s fitness to practice and must be reported to the GMC.
  • Using or possessing illegal drugs
    The use or possession of illegal drugs (including cannabis) may raise a question about a doctor’s fitness to practice, so you must also tell the GMC if you receive a warning for such offences.
  • Anti-social behaviour orders
    Anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) are court orders which prohibit the perpetrator from specific anti-social behaviours and may raise questions about a doctor’s fitness to practice, whether they are issued as a result of criminal or civil proceedings.

‘Good Medical Practice’ from the GMC

Guidance from the General medical Council (GMC) advises that:

  • You must inform the GMC without delay if, anywhere in the world, you have accepted a caution, been charged with or found guilty of a criminal offence, or if another professional body has made a finding against your registration as a result of fitness to practice procedures.
  • Registration with the General Medical Council or General Dental Council imposes on doctors and dentists a duty to provide a high standard of medical care for, and behave appropriately towards patients. Employers within Health and Social Care also have a duty to ensure that patients receive a high standard of medical care and ensure as far as possible the safety of patients. Employers therefore need to establish if you have been found guilty of a criminal offence, been bound over or cautioned or are currently the subject of proceedings which might lead to a conviction, an order binding you over or a caution, in the UK or any other country.

More information about your responsibilities as a doctor can be found at the British Medical Association Website and the General Medical Council Website.

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