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Discipline reform ideas would treat GPs 'like employees'

The Shipman Inquiry has angered GPs by suggesting chan- ges to monitoring and discipline of doctors that would treat GPs as employees rather than independent contractors.

A consultation document from the fourth wave of the inquiry has put forward that all complaints about GPs could first be directed to primary care organisations because many are 'abandoned' at practice level.

The inquiry also suggested PCOs could send a 'reference' ­ including a record of major complaints and concerns over performance ­ when GPs move from one area to another.

Patient representatives or PCO staff could sit on practices' interview panels during recruitment of GPs under further ideas floated by the inquiry.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said the moves ignored GPs' independent contractor status.

'The Department of Transport does not suggest doing this with contractors like Wimpy or Jarvis,' he said.

The idea of sending

complaints straight to PCOs missed the point, Dr Holden added.

'Most complaints fizzle out because once patients have an explanation they no longer have a grievance.'

The Shipman Inquiry report said radical reform of PCO disciplinary procedures was needed because they were too drawn out and rarely used.

It also floated the idea of lowering the current criminal standard of proof for GMC cases to a civil standard.

Dr Krishna Korlipara, GMC member and a GP in Bolton, said the move may violate GPs' right to a fair hearing under the Human Rights Act.

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