Fitness-to-Practice Determinations After Academic Dishonesty Among Health Professions in the United Kingdom

Cathal T. Gallagher, Melissa Attopley, Thelma Gossel, Murwo M. Ismail, Nasteha Mohamed, Georgina Saadalla, Jeta Thaci

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In the United Kingdom, the regulation of healthcare professions falls under the remit of one of 10 general councils, each of which has a statutory duty to ensure the continuing fitness to practice of its registrants. Among the matters that may call a practitioner's fitness to practice into question are deviations from published standards of behavior, which include honesty and academic integrity. Through a series of related case studies from the General Medical Council, General Dental Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, and Nursing and Midwifery Council, this article examines how the common fitness-to-practice process used by U.K. regulators deals with registered healthcare professionals who have attempted to gain an advantage by falsifying academic qualifications. There was a significant degree of consistency between the processes used by each general council. During each case, the same aggravating and mitigating circumstances were considered when determining both fitness to practice and sanction. To maintain “proper standards” and public confidence in the professions in response to an act of academic dishonesty, a sanction from the lower end of the spectrum of severity may be imposed. However, if a practitioner conveys a lack of insight regarding their actions, a period of suspension from practice may be imposed, during which they are asked to reflect. When there is an ongoing risk to the safety of patients, or when a practitioner does not engage in the process, a striking-off order may be appropriate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nursing Regulation (JNR)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2022


  • Academic misconduct
  • disciplinary action
  • fitness to practice
  • postgraduate education


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