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GMC 'far from satisfactory' says Shipman Inquiry chair

The chair of the Shipman Inquiry told the final day of its public hearings she was 'far from

satisfied' with the GMC and it 'had to change'.

In comments that further demonstrate the threat facing the GMC from the inquiry's final report, Dame Janet Smith also raised serious questions over plans for revalidation.

She said she could not see how revalidation could assure the public of the competence of doctors because the standard of performance was set too low. Dame Janet added: 'The GMC must understand that we are not satisfied; we are far from satisfied and things have to change.'

She also questioned whe-ther revalidation should be linked to doctors' registration. 'I begin to wonder whether that is actually a good idea because you can only impose the "just competent" standard as an actual requirement,' she said.

Her statements in late January came more than a month after a 'Salmon' letter from the inquiry warned the GMC of 17 potential criticisms it may make.

The GMC sent a full response to the letter in mid-February and last week mounted a strong defence against its contents.

One of the central criticisms the letter said might be made was that revalidation was 'inadequate to meet the claims presently being made as to its beneficial effects'.

The GMC last week argued its revalidation plans were fit for purpose and it could see no reason why the inquiry would recommend amending them.

Finlay Scott, chief executive of the GMC, said he had heard nothing that would point to the GMC having to rework revalidation and stressed the Government had endorsed it.

He said: 'Until someone tells us to the contrary we are working on the assumption the basic model will be as we described.

'We did consider whether it was possible to have revalidation without a link to registration but it was rejected. An exam only measures what doctors can do, not what they have been doing. It is an important distinction.'

 · GMC defence, page 10

By Ian Cameron

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