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EDITIONS
Monday, 28 May, 2001, 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK
System 'weeds out poor doctors'
Doctor
The first doctors will start going through revalidation in 2004
Pilot schemes of plans to ensure every doctor is fit to practise medicine have passed their first hurdle by successfully weeding out poor performers.

Revalidation - the five yearly General Medical Council (GMC) test for doctors - aims to ensure that all medics are fit to keep their registration.

The plans were introduced as public confidence in the medical profession slumped to an all time low.

The GMC President Sir Donald Irvine said it was essential that doctors were continuously monitored and that they were not kept in a job for life simply by passing their medical exams.

Sir Donald Irvine
Sir Donald Irvine, GMC president, said all doctors must be fit to practise

The GMC is currently awaiting government approval for its plans, but hopes to ensure that the first doctors are revalidated in 2004, with every medic having gone through the "MoT" by 2009.

Those found lacking in certain areas will be offered help to shape up, but anyone found to be beyond help will be struck off and have to leave the profession.

This is an encouraging sign that the process is capable of identifying doctors who may not be fit to practise and those who are

GMC spokeswoman

Pilot revalidation schemes, looking at 250 doctors, were set up round the country this year and appraisers proved they were able to spot a doctor who should not be practising.

The GMC said the GP, who was described as "overstressed/paranoid" and could be "approaching breakdown", had been deliberately included in the pilot to ensure the system was working correctly.

Deficient doctors

The council said the GP had already been identified as deficient by their performance procedures, but the appraisers were not told this.

Appraisers also spotted potentially serious problems with another GP who was not deliberately planted.

This GP was described as "overworked" and was said to be in a "real danger of stress related error and organisational inadequacy" and that he was working excessive hours.

A spokeswoman for the GMC said that although revalidation was still in its infancy the pilots had produced promising results.

"This is an encouraging sign that the process is capable of identifying doctors who may not be fit to practise and those who are."

Fears are high among some doctors though that revalidation might be too onerous and time consuming - some are even considering early retirement in a bid to avoid it.

There have been genuine concerns by many doctors that it is going to be too bureaucratic, but it is nothing more and nothing less than doctors do every day

Dr Krishna Korlipara

But GMC member Dr Krishna Korlipara, who volunteered for one of the pilot tests, said it had been much easier than he expected to complete.

"It was an absolute doddle to collect all the data needed.

"There have been genuine concerns by many doctors that it is going to be too bureaucratic, but it is nothing more and nothing less than doctors do every day.

"I want to assure all the doctors that revalidation will not be a threat to 99% of doctors. For the small minority that it is a problem, it will give an opportunity for them to something about their problems."

Doctors failing revalidation will be given help with their problems, but those who are beyond help will lose their registration.

See also:

24 May 01 | Health
27 Apr 01 | Health
26 Jun 00 | Health
05 Jan 00 | Health
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