GMC Undertakings and Assurance Assessments – What every doctor should know

The GMC may agree undertakings with a doctor, that the doctor will work within prescribed parameters.  Where there is evidence to suggest they could be lifted, doctors may be asked to have an assurance assessment.

The GMC may agree undertakings with a doctor, that the doctor will work within prescribed parameters.  Where there is evidence to suggest they could be lifted, doctors may be asked to have an assurance assessment.

What are GMC Undertakings?

Undertakings are agreed between the doctor and the General Medical Council (GMC), either at the end of an investigation or at a tribunal hearing run by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).

Undertakings are offered, in certain cases normally associated with competence of health, where there is evidence that a doctor’s fitness to practise is impaired  but, undertakings are sufficient to protect patients, the public, and address the concerns about the doctor.  The GMC will not agree undertakings where it thinks there is a realistic chance that a medical practitioners tribunal hearing might erase the doctor from the register.

Undertakings might:

  • stop a doctor doing certain things (practise or behaviour)
  • commit a doctor to only working while supervised
  • commit a doctor to retrain
  • commit a doctor to being monitored as to their health

If the GMC offer undertakings to a doctor, and they refuse, the GMC will refer the doctor to a medical practitioners tribunal hearing.  Equally, if a doctor does not comply with agreed undertakings, they will be referred to a medical practitioners tribunal hearing.

Undertakings are published in full on the medical register and will be visible for ten years after the undertakings have expired.

GMC Undertakings – Approach with caution!

In order for the GMC to impose an undertaking, a doctor must agree to this.  This implication is that through agreement the doctor also gives clear acknowledgement that the GMC’s findings are founded (i.e. acknowledgement that their fitness to practise is impaired).

Doctors must take great care before agreeing to an undertaking.  In some cases, a doctor’s career, reputation and/or interests will be better served by contesting the GMC findings before a tribunal.  Doctors are advised to seek legal advice before agreeing to a GMC undertaking.

In certain cases, undertakings agreed will be more rigid or restrictive than conditions agreed through the interim orders tribunal process or by a medical practitioners tribunal hearing.

What is an assurance assessment?

The GMC has to power to vary and revoke undertakings.  Where there is evidence that the doctor has remediated the concerns, the GMC might request an assurance assessment in order to obtain “objective evidence of fitness to practise” without undertakings.

The GMC might offer you an assurance assessment if:

  • there is evidence of remediation
  • you have kept your medical knowledge up to date and provided evidence of continuing professional development (CPD)
  • your workplace reports have been consistently positive
  • you have completed retraining.

The GMC has published guidance around the types of evidence that may be accepted in place of an assurance assessment.

Assurance Assessments will be undertaken by assessors, both clinicians and lay people, and the outcome will be a binary decision – Acceptable or Unacceptable.

The GMC has produced guidance you might find helpful to refer to.

When should you seek legal advice?

Through years of experience, we know that early engagement with expert legal advice often results in better outcomes for doctors.  Evidence has also shown that healthcare professionals who seek legal advice and representation at an early stage in any fitness to practise process, generally, receive better outcomes and lesser sanctions, if any.

Aside from strongly recommending doctors take legal advice before agreeing to GMC undertakings, the evidence required to persuade the GMC that undertaking should be lifted often requires a considerable amount of time.  Early engagement with Kings View means we are able to advise you on the correct strategy and remediation.  We will work with you throughout the process and can represent you in GMC fitness to practise investigations and hearings to ensure you are in the best place for a positive outcome.


You can speak to us today for a free, no obligation assessment of your case.

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