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Ayling blow to singlehanders

The Ayling Inquiry report has called for tough measures to protect patients from sexual abuse by GPs, including training chaperones.

The report, on how the NHS handled allegations against the disgraced former Kent GP Clifford Ayling, called for trained chaperones to be available with clear PCT guidelines for their use. It said: 'The use of untrained administrative staff is not acceptable.'

But the report stops short of insisting that all practices have a chaperone because of capacity issues and home visits.

RCGP honorary secretary Dr Maureen Baker said patients should be offered a chaperone wherever possible, but this may not be possible in emergencies.

The Department of Health ordered the inquiry after Ayling was convicted in 2000 of carrying out indecent assaults on female patients.

The report also calls for PCTs to take greater responsibility for tackling such cases and ensure proper funding is available for investigating concerns about GPs.

It was found that Kent LMC played an ambiguous role in the Ayling case, with GPs inappropriately seeing the body as 'a safe haven for troubling knowledge'.

It is recommended that LMCs clarify their role, 'to make it explicit that acting on the receipt of information about a GP which indicates patient safety is being compromised is not part of their role'.

It further recommended that any concerns about a GP's conduct reported to LMCs should be immediately passed on to PCOs.

Kent LMC medical secretary Dr Gary Calver welcomed the findings. 'We are a body to represent GPs, not to take responsibility for patient safety,' he said.

GPs should declare all other work they carry out, to ensure a record of other organisations interested in inappro- priate activity, the report said.

Health Secretary John Reid said he was awaiting the conclusions of the Shipman Inquiry before considering the recommendations.

ByJoe Lepper

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