Conduct committed outside the course of professional practice

In Gosalakkal v GMC 2015 EWHC 2445 (Admin) one of the Doctor’s arguments on appeal was that an email found to be sent by him including the words ““A group of paediatricians have been carrying out a campaign against me and the trust carried out various investigations most of which beased [sic] on falsehoods. They are now trying to prevent me from working at UHL….” could not amount to serious misconduct as it occurred “outwith the course of professional practice itself”; and second, that this was a one-off course of misconduct and so would fall short of the threshold required to constitute serious misconduct which required persistent conduct.

Sir Stephen Silber, hearing the appeal disagreed noting that it was quite clear that matters arising outwith the course of professional practice could constitute serious misconduct. In Roylance v GMC it was said that when determining what amounted to professional misconduct “…there must be a link with the profession of medicine. Precisely what the link may be and how it may occur is a matter of circumstance…”.

Sir Stephen Silber concluded “…that the mere fact that the appellant was acting “outwith the course of professional practice itself” does not prevent him being found guilty of serious misconduct because the sending of the email clearly had in Lord Clyde’s words [in Roylance] “a link with the profession of medicine” as it related to a dispute between the appellant and paediatricians allegedly aimed at preventing the appellant from working at UHL.

Another of the Appellant’s arguments, that conduct committed outside the course of professional practice could only constitute serious misconduct if it was repeated was also rejected. The Judge noted that a requirement of persistent conduct was not referred to by Lord Clyde in Roylance where he explained that an exhaustive definition of serious misconduct could not be given, and also that “….there is no theoretical or logical justification for requiring there to be repeated conduct before conduct can be serious misconduct.  So I reject the appellant’s submission.”

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