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The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Decisions >> Raji v. General Medical Council (GMC)  UKPC 24 (19 March 2003)
Cite as:  Lloyd's Rep Med 280,  1 WLR 1052,  ACD 63,  Lloyds Rep Med 280,  WLR 1052,  UKPC 24
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Raji v. General Medical Council (GMC)  UKPC 24 (19 March 2003)
Privy Council Appeal No. 75 of 2002
Dr. Adil Mahmud Raji Appellant
The General Medical Council Respondent
THE PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE
OF THE GENERAL MEDICAL COUNCIL
JUDGMENT OF THE LORDS OF THE JUDICIAL
COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL,
Delivered the 19th March 2003
Present at the hearing:-
Lord Rodger of Earlsferry
Sir Andrew Leggatt
[Delivered by Lord Steyn]
"The Chairman: Dr Raji: The Committee have heard that on 25 February 1999 your name was erased from the Register for serious professional misconduct and that application for restoration in August 2000 was rejected. This followed your gross irresponsibility in prescribing controlled drugs for a patient who you knew or should have discovered was being treated for drug abuse under a regime of total abstinence. Despite having given undertakings to (1) solicitors acting for the patient (2) the consultant psychiatrist who was treating him and later (3) to the GMC that you would not further prescribe, you continued to do so.In considering this your second application for restoration to the Register, the Committee have taken into account the following matters:
a. The reasons why your name was erased from the Register in 1999 and was not restored in August 2000. The events leading to your erasure were very serious indeed. You now maintain that your behaviour leading to your erasure was a mistake. You contend that it was an error of judgment made in good faith. The Committee are concerned, having heard your evidence today, that you still do not fully appreciate the gravity of your dishonesty;
b. This application for restoration and the contents of your statutory declaration;
c. The Committee were concerned to learn that although you have attended some courses you have not produced evidence that you have made sufficient serious attempts to keep up to date with medical practice or current developments since August 2000. They were further concerned that you appear to have no insight into the effect this could have on your practice as a general practitioner;
d. The testimonials from patients and professional colleagues which were submitted on your behalf at the time of the hearing of your application for restoration to the Register in August 2000. They noted that you were highly regarded. Nevertheless, the Committee were concerned that you have submitted no new testimonials or evidence as to your conduct and activity in the two years since that hearing, with the exception of a small number of educational sessions;
e. Your testimony that you have severed links with your former practice;
Having considered all these matters, the Committee have determined that it would not be in the public interest for your name to be restored to the Register and have accordingly rejected your application.
As this is your second application for restoration to the Register in the current period of erasure the Committee have considered whether they should impose a direction indefinitely suspending your right to make a further application for restoration. They have decided to suspend your right to make a further application for restoration to the Register. They are convinced that this is realistic and that it is both in the public interest and in your own interest to bring this matter to a close."
Dr Raji did not appeal against the decision of the PCC to refuse to restore him to the register. He only challenged the decision of the PCC which directed that his right to make further applications for restoration of his name shall be suspended indefinitely. This decision and the reasons for it were contained in the last paragraph of the determination.
"Restoration of names to register.
(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (5) below, where the name of a person has been erased from the register under section 36 above the Professional Conduct Committee may, if they think fit, direct his name to be restored to the register.
(2) No application for the restoration of a name to the register under this section shall be made to the Professional Conduct Committee –
a. before the expiration of five years from the date of erasure; or
b. in any period of twelve months in which an application for the restoration of his name has already been made by or on behalf of the person whose name has been erased.
(5) Before determining whether to give a direction under subsection (1), the Professional Conduct Committee shall require an applicant for restoration to provide such evidence as they direct as to one or more of his good character, professional competence and health; and they shall not give a direction if that evidence does not satisfy them.
(6) Where, during the same period of erasure, a second or subsequent application for the restoration of a name to the register, made by or on behalf of the person whose name has been erased, is unsuccessful, the Professional Conduct Committee may direct that his right to make any further such applications shall be suspended indefinitely.
(7) Where the Professional Conduct Committee give a direction under subsection (6), the Registrar shall without delay serve on the person in respect of whom it has been made a notification of the direction and of his right to appeal against it in accordance with section 40.
(8) Any person in respect of whom a direction has been given under subsection (6) may, after the expiration of three years from the date on which the direction was given, apply to the Professional Conduct Committee for that direction to be reviewed by the Committee, and thereafter, may make further applications for review; but no such application may be made before the expiration of three years from the date of the most recent review decision." [Emphasis added]
It will be observed that section 41(6) is silent on the question whether the issue of restoration must be determined before the question of suspension is considered.
"Procedure for consideration of applications for restoration
(1) Where a person applies for the restoration of his name to the Register under section 41 of the Act, the following provisions shall have effect:-
(a) Subject to any direction given by the Chairman of the Professional Conduct Committee in special circumstances, an application shall not be considered by the Committee at any meeting unless, not less than twenty-one days before the first day of that meeting, there has been delivered to the Registrar a statutory declaration made by the applicant as nearly as possible in the form set out in Schedule 3.
(b) At the hearing of the application, the Chairman of the Committee shall first invite the Solicitor to recall the circumstances in which the applicant's name was erased from the Register and, if he so desires, to address the Committee and to adduce evidence as to the conduct of the applicant since the date the Committee directed that the practitioner's name should be erased from the Register.
(d) The Committee may, if they think fit, receive oral or written observations on the application from any body or person on whose complaint or information the applicant's name was erased from the Register.
(da) The Chairman shall next invite the applicant to address the Committee and, if he so desires, to adduce evidence as to his good character, his professional competence and his health since the date the Committee directed his name should be erased from the Register, and if any observations are received under sub-paragraph (d), the applicant shall have the right to address the Committee in response to those observations.
(db) Where an application is a second or subsequent application during the same period of erasure the Chairman shall invite the applicant to address the Committee on the question of whether his right to make further applications should be suspended indefinitely.
(e) The Committee may, if they think fit, adjourn consideration of any application to such future meeting as they may specify, and may require the applicant to submit evidence of his conduct since his name was erased from the Register.
(f) Subject to the foregoing provisions of this rule the procedure of the Committee in connection with such applications shall be such as they may determine."[Emphasis added]
Again there is no provision that the two aspects must be considered separately. So far as the rules are silent, the procedure to be adopted is in the discretion of the PCC: Rule 46(1)(f).
(a) the procedure of requiring Dr Raji to deal with restoration and suspension at the same time was flawed;
(b) the reasons for the decision to suspend were insufficient;
(c) the decision was in any event wrong.
At the hearing of the appeal counsel for Dr Raji invited the Board to concentrate on the first issue and to rule on it as a discrete matter.
"If the PCC announce that your name should not be restored to the Register and your application is the second or subsequent application you have made since your name was erased from the Register, the PCC will invite the GMC's representative and then you, or your representative, to make submissions as to whether your right to make further applications for restoration should be suspended indefinitely. Having heard those submissions the PCC will consider the matter in private and announce their decision in public."
By a letter dated 25 February 2003, which was placed before the Board before the hearing, the solicitors for the GMC further observed:
"... our client's current view, as set out in Draft Guidance dated 29 October 2002, a copy of which is enclosed, is that submissions on the issue of the suspension of an applicant's right to reapply for restoration will be heard by the Professional Conduct Committee after a decision has been made by the Committee on the applicant's main application for restoration."
At the very least this material shows that the GMC regards a two-stage procedure as entirely workable. But it may also involve a recognition that such a procedure is fairer and more conducive to good decision-making.
"In my thinking, if the Professional Conduct Committee are not convinced by me being put back on the register, it is my suggestion that I can do six months or one year attached to the Charter & Nightingale Hospital where they have good experience in the use of narcotics and, at the same time, attach myself to an NHS general practice if the Committee feels I am not fit to be restored to the register, and so I should be given the chance to re-apply."
She invited the Board to dismiss the appeal.