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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 November 2006, 12:36 GMT
GMC fights for regulatory powers
Harold Shipman
The Shipman Inquiry flagged up concerns
The GMC has broadly welcomed a shake up in doctor regulation.

But it has objected to some of the proposals put forward by the Chief Medical Officer for England Sir Liam Donaldson to strip it of powers.

Officials said the GMC wanted to retain the power to adjudicate in fitness to practice cases, and control of undergraduate training.

Sir Liam proposes handing adjudication to an independent body - leaving the GMC to investigate complaints.

Modern medical regulation must put patient safety first
Sir Graeme Catto
GMC president

He also suggested moving undergraduate medical education from the GMC to the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board.

The review also suggested introducing MOT-style checks on doctors' abilities.

The GMC, which had already put forward its own version called revalidation, welcomed the proposal, but said it would take some time to introduce.

It also agreed to change its membership to 50% doctors, 50% lay people to move away from the much-criticised professional-led regime.

Track record

Sir Graeme Catto, GMC president, said: "Modern medical regulation must put patient safety first, be fair to doctors and be both practicable and affordable.

"I believe our proposals meet those requirements."

He said the GMC had a proven track record on fitness to practice cases, and controlling medial training allowed the council to ensure the quality of doctors.

The review was commissioned after the inquiry into serial killer Harold Shipman.

The consultation into Sir Liam's proposals ends later this month with the government left to decide how best to proceed.

The direction of travel indicated by their response, demonstrates that the GMC is committed to a future in which both patients and the profession can have real confidence in the regulation of medicine
Andy Burnham, health minister

When he launched his document, Sir Liam said: "Patients put their trust in doctors often at a major moment in their lives.

"They are right to do so, but my review has shown that the public and doctors think that this trust must be underpinned by a strong system to assure good practice and safe care."

The GMC response comes after the British Medical Association, the doctor's trade union body, criticised the proposals last week.

It said it "opposes outright" the proposal to lessen the burden of proof required in fitness to practice cases. Sir Liam suggested this be changed to on the balance of probability - the standard in civil cases.

The GMC did not oppose this, although said it should remain flexible to take into account the seriousness of the allegations.

The General Dental Council has welcomed Sir Liam's proposals, saying it has already adopted the civil standard of proof and was working at moving towards some of the other recommendations.

Health Minister Andy Burnham said: "While there are undoubtedly and understandably areas on which we currently differ, the direction of travel indicated by their response, demonstrates that the GMC is committed to a future in which both patients and the profession can have real confidence in the regulation of medicine."


SEE ALSO
Q&A: Doctor regulation
14 Jul 06 |  Health
Doctor checks 'to be easier'
01 Mar 03 |  Health

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