From April 2013, doctors will undergo annual assessments to ensure they are fit to practice in the ‘biggest change in medical regulation for 150 years’. These changes will affect the doctors of patients with or without medical insurance.
The new system called revalidation will see all doctors undergoing an annual appraisal with a senior colleague going over complaints, compliments, clinical data, complications and mistakes, as well as management and research work.
Every five years this will have to include feedback from at least 35 patients and colleagues before the doctor can be recommended to the General Medical Council to continue to practice.
Revalidation will operate through Responsible Officers in each health care organisation, regardless of whether they work in the NHS, voluntary or private sector.
It is hoped that the new system will detect low level poor practice that would not currently warrant a referral to the General Medical Council, as well as allowing doctors to stay up to date with their skills and knowledge.
In a recent survey, concerns were raised in 4.1 per cent of cases, equivalent to 6,800 doctors in England. 2.4 per cent of these had low level concerns that would be addressed within the organisation, equating to 4,000 doctors.
One per cent had medium level concerns, equivalent to 1,600 doctors. But 0.7 per cent, or 1,200 doctors, were found to have high level concerns such as alcoholism and patient safety issues.
Of the concerns raised, a quarter were about the patient’s health, a quarter were about their conduct, and 60 per cent were about competency or a combination of those factors.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said it was a 'historic movement' and the biggest change in medical regulation for 150 years.
However, officials at the GMC and Department of Health said that patients would not know of any concerns raised about their doctor unless they were referred to the GMC and there was considered to be a case to answer.
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