Publication - FOI/EIR release

Employed NHS Board doctors suspended from work on full pay: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
28 Jul 2020
Employed NHS Board doctors suspended from work on full pay: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000047187
Date received: 15 Jun 2020
Date responded: 7 Jul 2020
Information requested

a.) How many Doctors employed by NHS Boards within Scotland are currently suspended from work on full pay for more than one month? 

Of these, 

ai.) How many of these Doctors have been suspended from work on full pay for more than 3 years? 

aii.) How many of these Doctors are suspended from work on full pay without any restrictions placed on their licence to practice by the General Medical Council(GMC)? 

aiii.) How many of these Doctors remain suspended from work on full pay despite having unrestricted GMC licence to practice, and having no impairment of fitness to practice, after completion of a GMC investigations and Medical Practitioners Tribunal hearings? 

b.) How does the Scottish Government keep track of the length and progress of these suspensions? 

bi.)If there is a process to monitor these suspensions, is this process auditted? How many health boards are complying with that process?

c.) What is the total cost in salary payments to currently suspended doctors employed by NHS Boards in Scotland, since the start of their individual suspensions?

d.) For questions a) to c) please break down these figures according to each employing NHS Board?

Response

You asked:

how many Doctors employed by NHS Boards within Scotland are currently suspended from work on full pay for more than one month?
The Scottish Government is aware of eight doctors who are currently suspended from work on full pay for more than one month.

ai.) Of these, how many of these Doctors have been suspended from work on full pay for more than 3 years?
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under section 38(1)(a) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information. It is personal information of which you are the data subject, and so it is subject to the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

aii.) How many of these Doctors are suspended from work on full pay without any restrictions placed on their licence to practice by the General Medical Council(GMC)?
The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for, however some of the information you have requested is available from the GMC. The GMC holds a register of all doctors with a licence to practise in the UK, including any restrictions on their licence to practice. This register is publicly available on the GMC website:
https://www.gmc-uk.org/registration-and-licensing/employers-medical-schools-andcolleges/employing-a-doctor/doctors-with-restrictions-on-their-practice
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

aiii.) How many of these Doctors remain suspended from work on full pay despite having unrestricted GMC licence to practice, and having no impairment of fitness to practice, after completion of a GMC investigations and Medical Practitioners Tribunal hearings?
The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for, however as previously noted, the GMC publishes information on its website about restrictions on a doctor's licence to practice. Additionally, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) publishes full information from their hearings online. This information is available on the MPTS website at: https://www.mptsuk.org/hearings-and-decisions/medical-practitioners-tribunals
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

b.) How does the Scottish Government keep track of the length and progress of these suspensions?
NHS Boards are required to inform the Chief Medical Officer of any suspensions and provide updates as detailed in the extant circulars PCS (DD) 1999/7, 1990 (PCS) 8 and NHS Circular PCS (DD) 1994/11. The content of these circulars can be found at the following weblinks:
http://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/pcs/PCS1999(DD)07.pdf
http://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/pcs/PCS(1990)08.pdf
http://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/pcs/PCS1994(DD)11.pdf

bi.) If there is a process to monitor these suspensions, is this process audited? How many health boards are complying with that process?
The expectation of the Scottish Government is that NHS Boards comply with the process detailed in the PCS circulars noted above. NHS Boards provide the Scottish Government with regular updates on any suspensions, while the full management and auditing of any suspensions is the responsibility of NHS Boards themselves. The Scottish Government is content that NHS Boards are complying with the process. 

c.) What is the total cost in salary payments to currently suspended doctors employed by NHS Boards in Scotland, since the start of their individual suspensions?
The total cost of salary payments which has been provided to the Scottish Government is £666,381.
However, it should be noted that this figure may not be fully up to date due to natural lags in financial accounting and changes in working practices in NHS Boards caused by Covid-19.

d.) For questions a) to c) please break down these figures according to each employing NHS Board?
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under section s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. The numbers of people who would be included within this query are so low that to break down the information by Board could make individuals and their personal information identifiable. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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