The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that doctors' assessments which are to be introduced in December are not a system "which is about box-ticking".
Interviewed by the Today programme's Justin Webb, Mr Hunt said that the assessments will be "designed to pick up problems before they happen" and give doctors the chance to bring their skills up to speed.
Asked about his 2008 Commons vote in favour of a 12-week limit on abortions, Mr Hunt commented "I am not going to get drawn into why I voted. It wasn't a religious reason."
And the health secretary, who signed a 2007 parliamentary early-day motion praising the "positive contribution" of homeopathic hospitals in the NHS, said that he "will follow scientific advice" in his current role.
Under the new scheme the UK's 220,000 doctors will have annual appraisals, with a decision taken every five years on whether they are fit to continue working.
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