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'Cock-up' over unqualified locums

Locum agencies are sending unqualified GPs into practices because primary care trusts have failed to make the necessary checks before admitting them on to supplementary lists, the Department of Health has warned.

The department last week ordered all PCTs to make urgent checks on the qualifications of every GP on its supplementary list after uncovering at least three cases of GPs admitted to lists despite not holding a JCPTGP certificate.

Dr Justin Allen, JCPTGP joint honorary secretary, said the committee had dealt with a 'steady trickle' of cases where GPs were working 'inappropiately'. He added: 'They have been working in ignorance or were hoping not to get caught.'

A department spokeswoman warned GPs they could be in breach of their terms of service if they failed to 'take reasonable care' to ensure any locum they employed was suitably qualified.

National Association of Non-Principals chair Dr Richard Fieldhouse blamed the problem on a 'big cock-up'. He said 'loosely worded' department guidance on supplementary lists was open to various interpretations by PCTs.

He added: 'I would not be surprised if there are PCTs that have, through simple

bad management, made these

mistakes.'

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