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Nineteen doctors granted private fitness to practise hearings

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Twenty-seven FTP inquiries were held in private at the request of complainants or witnesses over these three years, according to statistics released to the Medical Independent (MI).

In 2014, there were nine private FTP inquiries, three re­quested by the doctor and six by a complainant/witness. In 2015, 12 private inquiries were held, with seven requested by the doctor and five by a complainant/witness. Last year, the number of private hearings rose to 25, with nine requested by the doctor and 16 by the complainant/witness.

MI asked the Council how many requests for private FTP hearings it rejected and who the requester was. “The Council does not keep a record of unsuccessful applications and as such I cannot comment on this,” said its spokesperson.

Last year, the number of private inquiries rose markedly on 2015, although there were more FTP inquiries completed in 2016 (47) compared to 2015 (35).

“There is no particular reason for the increased privacy ap­plications in 2016. As you point out, there were more inquir­ies in 2016 than 2015, and as you can see from the breakdown, the majority of those applications (16) came from complain­ants/witnesses. Each application is considered on its own merits,” said the Council’s spokesperson.

The Council cannot seek to hold an inquiry in private and such applications must come from another party, ie, the doc­tor, witness or complainant.

Under the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, hearings before the FTP Committee “shall be held in public” unless the doctor or a witness required to give evidence or about whom person­al matters may be disclosed requests the Committee to hold all or part of the hearing in private. The FTP Committee must be satisfied “that it would be appropriate in the circumstances to hold the hearing or part of the hearing otherwise than in public”.

MI understands the possibility of the Council having great­er authority to conduct some hearings in private is being con­sidered as part of long-awaited reforms to the 2007 Act. Doc­tors have argued that public inquiries inflict unfair reputa­tional damage when there are no negative findings.

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