Doctors facing tighter checksMove intended to stop Shipman-style killing spree

21 February 2007

 

A stethoscope held by a doctor

Doctors would be checked every five years to ensure they are competent to continue working, under proposals announced today.

The General Medical Council (GMC) will also lose the right to adjudicate in fitness to practice cases when complaints are made against doctors.

The GMC will still investigate concerns about doctors but the final decision on what happens to a doctor is likely to pass to an independent tribunal.

New rules intended to tighten up the process surrounding death certification will also be introduced as part of the government's white paper.

Medical shake-up

Death certificates will be subject to independent scrutiny by a medical examiner.

The GMC will also be made more accountable to Parliament and doctors will undergo a process of re-certification where they will be tested on their standards in their own specialist fields.

The GMC will retain power over undergraduate education, although the structure of how it will be managed will change.

The government's plans also tighten up the rules surrounding controlled drugs.

Today's proposals mark the biggest shake-up of medical regulations in more than 100 years.

Shipman murders

The moves are part of an attempt to prevent another Shipman-style killing spree.

Dr Harold Shipman, from Hyde in Greater Manchester, murdered more than 200 people over a period of more than 20 years. Shipman was found hanging in his cell at Wakefield Prison in January 2004.

Responding to the White Paper on the regulation of health professionals, Which? health campaigner Frances Blunden, said: ‘At long last the government has taken heed of the lessons from Shipman and other scandals. Let’s hope this marks the beginning of a journey to create a truly patient-centred system of professional regulation.

‘A system which is more accountable, independent and transparent will eventually command the trust of the public and be in the interests of patients and professionals alike.’