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Gerada warning on 'over-regulation' after documentary secretly films GP consultations

RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada has launched a robust defence of GPs in the wake of a high-profile TV documentary that questioned standards of practice.

A Dispatches documentary screened last night, entitled Can you trust your doctor?, claimed to have ‘uncovered concerning evidence of misdiagnosis' after secretly filming consultations by GPs who had previously faced GMC investigations but had been allowed to continue practising.

The documentary, presented by Jon Snow, claimed the GMC ‘protected doctors' ahead of patients and raised concerns that GPs are not subjected to random tests to ensure they are safe to practise. The programme also raised fears over a lack of protection for NHS employees who blow the whistle on poor practice.

Speaking to Pulse, Dr Gerada said better systems needed to be put in place to flag up bad practice, but cautioned that isolated concerns among a 'tiny minority' should not be seen as symptomatic of a wider problem.

‘The vast majority of GPs do a fantastic job in sometimes quite difficult circumstances, but of course there are always a small proportion who let our profession down,' she said.

‘We do everything possible to prevent that but the tiny minority will not be sorted out by piling on more and more regulation. We do need to make it easier for people to flag up examples of bad practice, but we also need to build in more time for GPs to reflect, learn and get education and training.'

‘We already spend up to £1bn regulating doctors. We are one of the most over-regulated professions around and there will always be people who fall through. If we pile on more and more regulation we will never win.'

You can view the Dispatches documentary here. Let us know your thoughts on the programme by posting below or emailing andrew.mcnicoll@ubm.com.

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