Dr Sandler applied to the High Court for the termination of an interim order imposed by the General Medical Council, under section 41A(1) Medical Act 1983, suspending his registration. He had received a final written warning from his employer for failing properly to comply with his professional duties when completing cremation forms over a 12-month period, but his employer also referred the case to the GMC and to the police.
Dr Sandler was charged with offences under section 8(2) Cremation Act 1902 in connection with the completion of approximately 116 forms over several years, while the GMC's Interim Orders Panel (IOP) imposed an 18-month suspension of his registration. The IOP concluded that although suspension was not “necessary for the protection of members of the public”, it was “in the public interest” for the doctor to be suspended so that public confidence in the profession could be maintained. The doctor argued that his suspension should be terminated because it was not justified in the public interest and was disproportionate.
Nicol J concluded that, whilst suspension on public protection grounds could only be imposed if it was “necessary”, there was no such qualification on the public interest limb. The court said that although the panel had to consider carefully the proportionality of the measure, weighing the significance of any harm to the public interest in not suspending the doctor against the damage to him by preventing him from practising, the court had to be cautious about superimposing additional tests over and above those which Parliament had set. In all the circumstances, the court was entitled to give considerable weight to the views of the panel that the balance came down in favour of suspension.
The judgment can be accessed here.