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DH plans safety clampdown on GPs

By Nigel Praities

GPs are set to be given a legal duty to report patient safety incidents under plans being discussed by the Government and its regulator.

The Department of Health wants to make reporting of safety incidents mandatory to address what has been described as a ‘black hole' of information.

The new health and social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission, says it expects the DH to include a statutory duty for all health professionals to report all incidents to them or face sanctions from 2011.

The move has alarmed GPs - who will come under the regulator from 2011 – and raised fears they will be unfairly targeted.

A CQC spokesperson said planned risk profiles of GP practices would include an assessment of patient safety reporting: ‘We already look at quality and consistency of reporting. We'll build on this and expect statutory notifications to become important evidence to inform our view of risk.'

The CQC is also working closely with ministers and the National Patient Safety Agency to develop a notification system for safety incidents. ‘We want it to build on what the NPSA is already doing and avoid duplication,' the spokesperson added.

A DH spokesperson said it wanted to improve reporting by GPs and was looking at making it mandatory for all NHS workers: ‘Increasing reporting in primary care will help to identify incidents that currently might go undetected.'

Dr Anke Lehmkuhl, a GP in Swindon who is the designated GP for a care home in her practice, said she would be unfairly targeted under the proposals: ‘Even if you are doing a good job, this will result in you being considered a suspect.'

DH: claims GPs are a black hole of patient safety information DH: claims GPs are a black hole of patient safety information

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