Preliminary Proceedings Committee

All complaints are initially handled by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC). It is the role of the PPC to consider all complaints, decide whether the complaint warrants further action and provide recommendations to the Medical Council.

The outcomes available to the Preliminary Proceedings Committee are:

or they will give an opinion to the Council that:

  • No further action is necessary 
  • The complaint needs to be referred to another body or authority 
  • The doctor should be referred to the performance assessment scheme
  • Mediation if deemed appropriate could resolve the complaint and restore the doctor/patient relationship. 

Please note : Council approves each decision made during the complaints process.


Most complaints are dealt with outside a Fitness to Practise Inquiry and are resolved in the first stage of a complaint process. There are many outcomes available to the PPC, before an inquiry is considered. The PPC can come to the recommendation of meditation, where it's felt the relationship of the doctor/patient can be restored. 
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution carried out by an independent and objective meditator.

The PPC considers mediation under the following circumstances:

  • The PPC is of the opinion that the complaint does not warrant referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee.
  • The PPC is of the opinion that the complaint could be resolved by mediation as a means of restoring the doctor / patient relationship.

Mediation Guidelines are available and intended solely to give guidance to the parties of mediation.

Mediation can only be carried out if both parties agree. If an agreement isn’t reached or mediation breaks down, the complaint isn’t referred back to the Council and the complaint is considered closed/resolved. 

The Medical Council’s performance procedures and activities

All doctors are legally obliged to maintain their professional competence. Where concerns are raised regarding performance, a doctor can be referred to the Medical Council’s performance procedures and activities for an assessment of their knowledge and skill.

The doctor will be assessed by an independent team of two medical assessors and one non-medical assessor. The panel of assessors are carefully selected and rigorously trained by the Medical Council. The medical assessors have been selected across a range of specialties, while non-medical assessors will represent the views of patients.

The assessors will;

  • conduct on-site assessments,
  • observe interactions with patients,
  • review performance in practice using a set of assessment methods which have been benchmarked against international best practice, and,
  • compile a report for consideration by the Medical Council, which may include recommendations for the improvement of the doctor’s knowledge and skills, or application of knowledge and skills, or both.

In many cases, assessment will confirm satisfactory practice. In cases where poor performance or areas for development are identified and recommendations are made, the doctor undergoing assessment will propose an action plan to address the recommendations so as to improve his or her knowledge and skill or application of knowledge or skill or both.