The Charity Commission has agreed to reopen the enquiry into whether or not the GMC have breached their charitable objectives by taking on the regulation of anaesthesia and physician associates. It follows on from our original letter to them, sent in November 2023 and our appeals to their decision not to investigate.

In our initial letter to the GMC, co-signed by 1300 people, we highlighted the fact that the GMC, who were granted charitable status in 2001 because of their activities relating to the medical profession, were now carrying out activities relating to other professions – the anaesthesia associate and physician associate professions (AA and PA professions). We felt that in doing so they had breached their charitable objects which relate wholly and exclusively to medical practitioners.

We received a reply on the 7th December from a member of the Charity Commission (CC) assessment team, who told us the Commission did not consider that this was a wrongdoing by the GMC trustees, and that they were not going to contact the charity. 

We did not accept this decision and sent a complaint on 17th January this year, which again was rejected.

No reason or explanation for how they reached their decision was given. The CC publicly claim that they will take care to explain why their processes led to particular outcomes, and that their communications will give sufficient detail,  but in practice this has not happened. To us it appears very clear that the GMC has strayed into activities that are outside those activities for which it was granted charitable status. These activities relate exclusively to the medical profession, not the AA or PA professions. 

Since our initial email to them, Parliament has approved the Statutory Instrument which formally gives the GMC this role;  the legislation explicitly confirms that the two associates professions are not the same as the medical profession. We have expanded on this point separately.

It may be that the GMC Charity will choose to change its objects in the future, but this does not compensate for or take away from their inaction over the previous years.  It may also be that the regulation of associates does serve a charitable purpose, but this is by no means  certain since not every healthcare regulator is automatically granted charitable status.

Replying to us, on the 28th March, the Assistant Director of Customer Services explained that:-

We will bring you more information when we hear it.

And one slight anomaly has come to light. In their letter to us on 7th December the CC wrote that We have carefully reviewed all the information you sent us. We do not consider that it shows wrongdoing …. For this reason, we will not be contacting the charity. And in two subsequent letters they wrote “… it was decided that it would not be proportionate to engage with the trustees” and “therefore we would not engage with the charity.

But in the minutes of the GMC Council Meeting, held on 14th Feb, it was reported that “Following the recent correspondence with Anaesthetists United about whether our work on AAs and PAs was consistent with our charitable objects, the Charity Commission had confirmed that they will not be following up a complaint they received from Anaesthetists United”. (page 8). So was this confirmation made by the CC contacting the GMC? It isn’t clear.