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Fitness proof will be civil standard

The Government is to push through a shift to the civil standard of proof for fitness to practise hearings as one of a series of hard-hitting reforms, writes Helen Crump.

The change will be announced in a White Paper next week, which is the Government's response to Sir Liam Donaldson's Good Doctors, Safer Patients report.

The news will outrage doctors, more than 1,000 of whom signed a Pulse petition opposing the change.

Multiple sources told Pulse the White Paper will pave the way for weakening the level of proof required to 'balance of probabilities' rather than the current 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

But it is unclear if this will incorporate a sliding scale.

Under a 'sliding scale' approach the standard of proof required would become more stringent depending on the severity of the charge. But there are concerns that this would not be practical.

Sources also said the GMC will lose its adjudication role.

The professional elected majority will disappear with the GMC made more accountable to Parliament. One source indicated that members might be elected from a shortlist.

Local GMC affiliates look set to be introduced – but one source claimed there would be a pilot first.

Recertification, overseen by the RCGP, will take place every five years, with the first GPs starting the process in 2008/9.

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