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Forget risk profiles, we need to put the regulator under special measures

Saints preserve us and how I thank my lucky stars that after 33 years as a GP, retirement is not far off. Baroness Young has just announced yet another expansion of one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, that of monitoring GPs ('Regulator plans risk profile for every GP').

After having been told to compare ourselves with the 'high standards' of airlines, hotels and even builders by ministers and Department of Health officials, we are to have yet another layer of scrutiny and inspection to ensure we're up to scratch.

And of course patient surveys will have a vital part to play. Has anyone pointed out to these blue-sky thinkers that an important part of GP work is to counter patient demands for more benzos, antibiotics or sick notes and that we don't expect to be scored as flavour of the month by those whose best interests we try to serve. Yet for all that, general practice regularly scores higher by far with the public than any other profession.

So I propose a new campaign - Scrutinise the Scrutineers. Have they surveyed their customers - us - to develop their decision-making? Are they accessible, easy to contact and responsive? Do they have a highly advertised and user-friendly complaints system? Are they visited annually by at least three inspecting bodies? Do they have an effective governance system in place? Are they value for money?

Do they meet set targets and have the bar raised regularly?

I bet not one of them would get near the first hurdle, never mind over it. Maybe then they would be out of our hair and would allow us to do what we are excellent at - caring for patients.

From Dr TD Magowan, Ballymena, County Antrim

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