The High Court recently determined the case of General Medical Council v Lamming  EWHC 3309 (Admin), which overturned the decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal ("MPT") in granting a dishonest doctor restoration to the medical register.
Dr Lamming was originally suspended from the medical register for dishonestly claiming he had a PhD and for various other false claims about his qualifications and experience. A panel hearing the original proceedings found that he had showed little insight into his actions.
Following his return to practice, in 2007 he was disciplined again in relation to retaining funds paid to him by the NHS in error. His dishonest retention of this money, and further untrue explanations as to why he thought he was entitled to it, resulted in him having his name struck off the GMC's medical register.
Application for restoration
In 2017, Dr Lamming applied for restoration to the medical register. The GMC opposed this application, predominantly on the basis of his dishonest past conduct and demonstrated lack of insight into his dishonest behaviour.
The MPT considered the inconsistencies between his evidence during the hearing in 2007 compared to the explanations he was putting forward at the 2017 hearing, which the GMC argued showed a continued propensity to be dishonest. Despite this, the MPT granted the application for restoration to the register. The MPT's reasoning was that it was not appropriate for the 2007 Panel's decision to be 're-litigated' and Dr Lamming had shown insight and reflection into his dishonesty, and completed appropriate ethics training, reflecting his remediation.
The GMC appealed the MPT's decision. It focussed on concerns that Dr Lamming's accounts differed so materially between 2007 to 2017 that this showed a lack of insight into his conduct and continued propensity to be dishonest. The GMC argued that the MPT's reasons for restoration were flawed because there was a failure to grapple with the gravity of the inconsistencies in his evidence.
The appeal was allowed, with Knowles J confirming that the correct approach to take was to consider the various accounts and come to a conclusion about any inconsistencies and why these had occurred. The MPT had not considered the inconsistencies in enough detail, and so had failed to confront Dr. Lamming's dishonesty and properly determine the impact of this on his propensity and insight.
The decision confirms that previous findings of misconduct will be highly material in determining restoration applications. In this case, past dishonesty and inconsistent accounts of what had happened demonstrated a continued lack of credibility. However, it was the Panel's failure to properly consider this that led to the collapse of its decision.
Panels must ensure that the reasons they provide for any decisions adequately meet the substance of the arguments that are posed. Any inconsistencies must be considered fully and dealt with appropriately, otherwise any determination may be lacking and susceptible to be appealed and ultimately, to be quashed.