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Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK

UK: Scotland

Checks on foreign doctors 'not satisfactory'

GMC registration procedure was not "satisfactory"

It is "extremely difficult" to obtain reliable information about some doctors coming to the UK, a Fatal Accident Inquiry has been told.

Doctors coming to Britain from abroad can be granted limited registration to work without any check being made on whether or not they had been the subject of disciplinary proceedings overseas, the court heard.

An inquiry, at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, into the death of 10-year-old Darren Denholm at Peffermill Dental Clinic last year heard that the General Medical Council only required doctors to certify there had been no such proceedings.

Procedures 'not satisfactory'

The Chief Executive of the GMC, Finlay Scott, said: "It is extremely difficult to obtain reliable information from some parts of the world.

"The procedure is to ask doctors if there have been any complaints against them.

"Six-thousand doctors from outside the UK are registered each year. We do not seek information from doctors' registering authorities.

"We could not take into account information we did not have. We are aware of the fact that this is not satisfactory."

Mr Scott added that a test, introduced in 1976 to satisfy the GMC as to foreign applicants' skill, knowledge and experience would not have been undertaken by Ghanian-born Dr John Evans-Appiah.

He obtained his medical qualifications in the Ukraine and came to Britain in 1973.

Documents destroyed

Mr Scott also told the inquiry that up until 1998 it had been the practice of the GMC to destroy all documents relating to doctors in temporary or limited registration once they gained full registration.

Anne Smith QC pointed out that Dr Evans-Appiah, who has now been fully registered, had been unsuccessful in applying for full registration in 1981. As the documents had been destroyed, there was no way of knowing the reason.

Commenting on the decision of the GMC not to test doctors who had come to the country prior to 1976, Mrs Smith said: "This seems rather like a recipe for disaster?"

Mr Scott answered: "I don't know I am in a position to say it is or it isn't."

The inquiry continues.

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