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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK
Doctors face tighter regulation
Image of Shipman
Regulation of doctors was criticised during the inquiry into the murders of Harold Shipman
The body that checks doctors are fit to practise is planning tighter monitoring to identify those who might fail or harm their patients.

The proposals by the General Medical Council include asking all the UK's 120,000 doctors to give details of their current work.

Those who move frequently from job to job or work outside their areas of expertise could face closer scrutiny.

The plans will go before the GMC's council for approval next week.

Tighter checks

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said that while it supported the GMC concentrating time and efforts on the doctors it was unsure of, it was worried the changes could be a "bureaucratic nightmare".

The GMC has been shaken by a series of medical scandals that culminated in the inquiry into the murders by GP Harold Shipman.

Shipman was a considerable exception but, nevertheless, we need to tackle the problems that his case throws up
President of the GMC Professor Sir Graeme Catto

Chairwoman of the inquiry, Dame Janet Smith, was scathing about the GMC's plans for monitoring doctors, which were then put on hold.

The council has now drawn up plans to identify doctors most at risk of failing their patients, leading to tighter, targeted regulation.


President of the GMC Professor Sir Graeme Catto, said: "Harold Shipman was a considerable exception but, nevertheless, we need to tackle the problems that his case throws up.

"When you look at the data from Harold Shipman, there was evidence that things were going wrong."

He said for the vast majority of doctors, the proposals will mean reduced bureaucracy.

"We want to look much more carefully at doctors who work in those relatively lax environments and take a very much lighter touch on those who work in properly controlled environments."

Chairman of the BMA, Mr James Johnson, said: "One of the things that has concerned doctors most is that the whole process of revalidation is going to be a bureaucratic nightmare."

Dr Christine Tomkins of the Medical Defence Union said: "We have discussed with the GMC some of the difficulties of developing criteria to determine how it might accurately identify high risk doctors.

"It is in the interests of both doctors and patients that patient safety is improved.

"The research the GMC refers to aimed at identifying where the most risks to patients lies is welcome and should help to address those risks long before it is necessary to resort to disciplinary or any other more drastic action."

See how the GMC plans to stop failing doctors

Shipman stole victim's jewellery
31 Aug 05 |  Manchester
Q&A: Shipman Inquiry
09 Dec 04 |  Health

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