General Medical Council set to slash spending with panel cuts

The General Medical Council (GMC) has announced plans to axe at least one firm from its legal panel next year in a bid to cut its legal spend.

Eversheds, Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) and Mills & Reeve are set to battle it out for a spot on the GMC legal panel, with plans to reduce the number of firms appointed from three to two.

Losing the GMC would be a major blow to all of the firms involved, particularly FFW, which has built its public sector practice on the back of its work with the GMC. Matthew Lohn and Tom Rider are the GMC relationship partners.

The 2006 budget, authored by GMC director of resources Neil Roberts, predicts a budget blowout of almost 70 per cent, with estimates of spending just under £14m on legal costs.

The report stated that the council had diverted work away from its external lawyers to the in-house legal team, but that an increased referral rate had failed to produce the savings it hoped for.

“Next year we intend to address this issue in a number of ways,” the report said. “The first is to benchmark our external legal services providers for value for money [and] this will be done through an open tender… We expect that, through this exercise, we will move from three to two external solicitor firms.