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Criminal standard to be used if GP career is at stake

The new 'sliding scale' of proof for fitness-to-practise cases will continue to try cases at the

criminal standard where

GPs' livelihoods are at stake, Pulse has learned.

But for standard performance charges against GPs, the civil 'balance of probabilities' standard would be used instead.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, GMC chair Professor Sir Graeme Catto spelled out for the first time how he expected the scale to work – and insisted he was 'absolutely confident' it could be made to work.

Sir Graeme said it would be possible to try doctors facing performance charges at the

civil level and those facing erasure from the medical register using the criminal 'beyond reasonable doubt' standard.

He said he hoped to introduce the new system outlined in last week's regulation white paper following consultation with the medical profession.

'We need to get the principle established and then look at the practicalities,' he said. 'I'm absolutely confident any system can be made to work.'

Last week a snapshot survey by Pulse, in collaboration with doctors.net.uk, revealed 70 per cent of GPs expected to practise more defensively as a result of the plans outlined in the regulation white paper, but Sir Catto downplayed these concerns.

• For the full interview, see page 17

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