Gemma Hobcraft

g.hobcraft@doughtystreet.co.uk

Year of Call

2006
Gemma Hobcraft
Profile

Gemma practises in professional discipline and regulatory work and public law.

Gemma has extensive experience in advising and advocating at all stages (from interim order to appeal) in regulatory proceedings. She regularly appears before health care regulators including the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and  the General Dental Council (GDC) acting in the full range of conduct, competence and health cases. She has also appeared in GMC Registration Appeals.

Gemma co-authored the book “Professional Discipline and Health Care Regulators: a legal handbook” (LAG, 2012). Gemma was previously a co-opted member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Disciplinary and Regulatory Lawyers (ARDL).

Gemma advises on and acts in statutory appeals and judicial reviews (and other allied litigation) arising within the professional discipline and health care professionals context. Gemma speaks at seminars and organises and delivers bespoke training for unions and firms on all areas of professional discipline and regulatory work. She has recorded masterclasss on Fitness to practise and judicial review and appeals for ThomsonReuters Legalpd website. 

Gemma also advises on Disclosure and Barring issues – and is particularly versed in providing written representations to the Independent Monitor to challenge inclusion of ‘soft’ intelligence or acquittals contained within DBS disclosures.

 

 

Background

Prior to coming to the Bar, Gemma gained extensive experience in sexual and reproductive health and rights working at the international level. From September 2008 until March 2015, Gemma was appointed by the Department of Health as a lay member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). She was Deputy Chair of the Authority between 2012 and 2015 and also chaired the Ethics and Standards Committee amongst other roles. Gemma was previously a trustee of Brook (sexual health for young people) and an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Human Rights Lawyers Association (and its Bursary Officer) from 2006-2012.

 

 

Recent Seminars/Training

Gemma often organises and delivers bespoke trainings to unions and solicitors firms (and other interested individuals) on law relating to professional discipline. Recent training has included the following: a seminar on public law aspects of professional discipline work; a seminar on challenging disclosure and barring decisions for professionals and an all-day training on interim orders. Gemma also films ‘Masterclasses’ for legalPD and has  recently (June 2016) delivered an all day training on Professional Discipline for MBL Seminars.

 

 

Publications

 

  • Medical Treatment: Decisions and the Law – Christopher Johnston (Ed), contributing author – chapter on human fertilisation – 2016
  • Contributed a case commentary to Medical Law Reports (2016)
  • Contributing author to Halsbury’s on Rights and Freedoms
  • Professional Discipline and Health Care Regulators: A Legal Handbook,  Christopher Sallon QC, Jon Whitfield QC and Gemma Hobcraft, LAG, 2012
  • Human Rights in Criminal Investigations. J.Cooper and M.Colvin (Eds) OUP 2009 - contributing author - chapter on human rights and sentencing
  • G.Hobcraft 'Roma Children and Education in the Czech Republic, DH and Others v The Czech Republic: Opening the door to indirect discrimination findings in Strasbourg?' EHRLR 2 (2008) 245
  • J.Cooper and G.Hobcraft 'The IMPACT of human rights', Impact 13 HIV and the Law, Policy Bulletin 13, National AIDS Trust, July 2007
  • G.Hobcraft and T.Baker, 'Special needs of adolescent and young women in accessing reproductive health: Promoting partnerships between young people and health care providers' International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (2006) 94 350
  • G.Hobcraft (Contributing Editor) 'Navigating International Meetings: A Pocketbook Guide to Effective Youth Participation' United Nations Association of Canada, 2002

 

Directory Comments

Gemma is recommended in Chambers & Partners 2017 in the area of professional discipline, commentators note “She provides top-level, practical advice. If it’s a tricky case containing particularly complex issues, she’s the go-to counsel as she’s able to cut through the issues and think of an innovative way forward” and “She’s particularly good at advising on technical issues.”

 

The 2016 edition described Gemma as follows:

“Has a practice focussed on professional discipline, regulatory work and public law actions. She frequently advises on judicial reviews and statutory appeals related to professional disciplinary matters.

Strengths: “She has great analytical skills, is pragmatic, practical and always gets fantastic results”; “She is calm, professional and persuasive.”

 

2015 Entry: "Regularly appears on behalf of medical practitioners before a breadth of healthcare regulators. She is particularly knowledgeable in the area and is a published author on health law."

Strengths: "She is a clear-headed and compassionate person when it comes to dealing with regulated persons." "She is incredibly thorough and leaves no stone unturned."

Recent work: Acted in a disciplinary hearing before the NMC on behalf of a nurse who was alleged to have put a newborn baby in a stationery cupboard.”

Professional Discipline and Regulation

Professional Discipline - First instance


Gemma represents and advises registrants facing fitness to practise proceedings before their regulators - including doctors before the General Medical Council’s Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), nurses, health visitors and midwives before the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and registrants before the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and pharmacists before the General Pharmaceutical Council). Gemma also advises teachers facing proceedings before the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) at first instance and on appeal. Gemma also acts in Registration cases before the GMC.


Gemma has been instructed in a wide range of cases concerning health, conduct and competence. Gemma advises and acts at all stages of a case from pre-referral to appeal, including at interim order hearings and full hearings. Gemma has strong witness handling skills, the ability (given her background) to understand and unpick complex medical issues and terminology, and is well versed in challenging the drafting of charges, preliminary legal arguments - including exclusion of evidence and abuse of process, arguing half time submissions and presenting a coherent and strong case for her clients. Gemma has represented doctors, nurses, midwives, health visitors, physiotherapists, paramedics, psychologists, ODPs and bio-medical scientists.

 

  • HCPC v SB: Securing conditions in a case in which a never incident occurred in a blood bank.
  • HCPC v MB: Securing a complete acquittal on dishonesty allegations against an ODP.
  • GMC v MQ: Representing a Doctor (led by Edward Fitzgerald QC) at full hearing. Following an abuse of process argument all clinical charges were stayed. A dishonesty finding resulted in a suspension of three months.
  • GMC v NT: Successfully preventing the imposition of any form of Interim Order on a Doctor at an early stage in a GMC FTP investigation (led by Edward Fitzgerald QC).
  • GMC v ET: Representing a Doctor (led by Chris Sallon QC) facing extensive dishonesty charges in relation to his CV. Despite a large number of factual particulars being found proved, no impairment was found and the matter was ended with the imposition of a warning.
  • HPC v KO: Represented a physiotherapist at an 8 day hearing involving substantial documentation as a result of the wide ranging charges relating to record keeping and practise – the case was concluded with a suspension order which was later varied to conditions.
  • HPC v CS: Represented a physiotherapist at a 2 day hearing, where a number of charges were contested and found proved, but no impairment was found.
  • HPC v GC: Represented a junior physiotherapist at a 4 day hearing concerning competence which resulted in a conditions of practice order which was later revoked at review.
  • NMC v SP: Represented a Health Visitor at a 4 day hearing concerning dishonesty charges which were found proved – the case was concluded with a suspension order.
  • NMC v FL: Represented a Health Visitor over a 14 day hearing in a case with extensive documentation, charges and witness handling in relation to issues of child protection, safeguarding and record keeping. Of the extensive number of charges that remained in dispute, all were either dismissed at half time or found not proved at full time. The matter was concluded with a Caution Order.
  • TA v ES: Advised a head teacher during the preliminary stages of her TA proceedings alleging, inter alia, the misappropriation of school funds. 
  • NMC v AS: Represented an individual alleged to have obtained admission to the register by fraudulent or other means at an interims orders hearing.
  • HCPC v SG: Represented a paramedic in a case concerning capacity assessment and record keeping, following full admissions to facts and misconduct, no impairment was found.
  • HCPC v D: Represented a registrant at an 8 day hearing concerning extensive conduct allegations. A number of allegations were dismissed at half time following extensive cross examination of the HCPC witnesses and of the disputed particulars that went to full time only half of one particular was found proved.
  • HCPC v G: 5 day hearing concerning allegations of lack of competence/conduct against a physiotherapist, a number of charges were found not proved.
  • HCPC v P: 4 day hearing concerning extensive dishonesty allegations.
  • NMC v S: Representing a senior nurse at a15 day hearing concerning extensive dishonesty allegations, a number of which, following application were stopped. The case was concluded with a conditions of practice order.
  • NMC v P: 7 day hearing, representing a Health Visitor, as a result of disclosure issues  by the NMC an abuse of process application was made at the outset of the hearing, the application to have a key prosecution witness statement read by the NMC was successfully resisted. At half time 7 of the 10 allegations were stopped following application. 2 of the remaining 3 allegations were found proved, but the Panel did not find those allegations found proved amounted to misconduct.
  • NMC v T: 6 day hearing representing a Health Visitor, a number of charges were stopped at half time following a successful application. All other charges were the subject of admission and the matter was concluded with a caution order.
  • NMC v J: 6 day hearing representing a Nurse. All clinical competence charges were stopped at half time following a successful application. Dishonesty charges were found not proved at the end of the fact stage, leaving only minor admitted factual matters, these were not found to amount to misconduct.
  • NMC v G: 5 day hearing representing a Nurse on dishonesty allegations relating to a medication cover up. This was a complicated case with heavily contested facts and involved extensive and careful cross examination of all NMC witnesses. Half of the allegations were stopped at half time following a successful application. The remaining allegations were found not proved at the end of the fact finding stage.
  • NMC v S: 3 day hearing representing a Nurse who made full admissions to dishonesty allegations. The matter was concluded with a Conditions of Practice Order.
  • NMC v O: 5 day hearing concerning wide ranging competence and dishonesty allegations. Following various successful legal arguments only 1 of the 8 charges was eventually found proved. The panel were persuaded this did not amount to misconduct.
  • NMC v O: 5 day hearing concerning allegations of patient harm. The matter was concluded with a caution order.
  • GPhC v S: 3 month suspension secured in case concerning acceptance of police caution for drug possession.
  • HCPC v G: Conviction case for fraud in course of employment, the panel were persuaded that despite the criminal conviction the registrant’s fitness to practise was not impaired and therefore the allegation was not made out.

 

Professional Discipline – Appeal and Judicial Review Work
Gemma advises and acts in statutory appeals arising out of decisions (both pre, during and post hearing) of health care regulators. Recent examples, include:

  • Dr K v GMC: 2016 -  Appeal against decision to erase (representing the doctor).
  • JK v NMC: 2016  - Appeal against decision to strike off a nurse (representing the nurse).
  • LH v NMC: Advised on appeal against NMC decision to strike off, NMC consented to quashing of strike off and remittal back to fresh panel for sanction stage. Represented at fresh panel where conditions of practice order was imposed.
  • Luthra v GMC: [2013] EWHC 240 (Admin).
  • Advising on appeals against Prohibition Orders by the NCTL/Secretary of State.

 

Gemma also advises on potential judicial reviews of decisions impacting on health care professionals – for example including issues around Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates of health care professionals:

 

  • R (BW) v Independent Monitor: [2015] EWHC 4095 – first effective judicial review of decision by Independent Monitor concerning information provided in an ECRC
  • R (A) v Chief Constable of Kent Constabulary: [2013] EWCA 1706 Civ – Decision of police to disclose unproven allegations made against a nurse on an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate (ECRC) was disproportionate and unlawful.
  • Gemma is also instructed in public law and other challenges in the health sector, including acting for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) in a threatened judicial review the Secretary of State has agreed to amend NHS Guidance which permits hospitals to refuse to investigate complaints from patients harmed by poor care who are also contemplating a claim for damages.
  • Gemma has also been instructed in judicial reviews relating to prisoner welfare, parole board challenges, education law and health law.
  • Gemma has a particular interest in mental health law and has previously lectured on the Institute of Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry MSc programme on the issue of criminal sentencing and violent offenders.

Public & Administrative

Gemma is instructed in public law and other challenges in the health sector. A recent example include acting for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) in a threatened judicial review the Secretary of State has agreed to amend NHS Guidance which permits hospitals to refuse to investigate complaints from patients harmed by poor care who are also contemplating a claim for damages.

Gemma has been instructed in judicial reviews relating to prisoner welfare, parole board challenges, education law and health law.

Gemma has a particular interest in mental health law and has previously lectured on the Institute of Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry MSc programme on the issue of criminal sentencing and violent offenders.

Education

BA (hons) History

Graduate Diploma in Law

LL.M (Human Rights Law)

Lincoln's Inn (Kennedy, Hague and Shelford scholar)
 

Languages

Spanish (intermediate)
German (basic)


Memberships

Association of Disciplinary and Regulatory Lawyers- Co-opted Committee member
Human Rights Lawyers Association
 

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