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GPs go forth

GMC 'not listening' to doctors on proof change

The GMC has been accused of failing to engage in debate on its proposed changes to fitness to practise hearings as consultation responses urged it to listen to the medical profession.

The RCGP led the criticism, saying it was ‘disappointed' the GMC had not taken the opportunity to specifically tackle GPs' concerns over the proposed weakening of the standard of proof.

Responses from the Medical Protection society and BMA reiterated the organisations' continuing opposition to the plans.

In the college's official response, Dr Maureen Baker, honorary secretary of council said: ‘The college is disappointed that the consultation has not taken the opportunity to debate the main issue of changing to a civil standard of proof.

‘We feel that this would have given the GMC the op-portunity to make its case for the change and seek to allay the genuine and widespread disquiet this proposal has generated throughout the medical profession,' she added.

The MPS expressed ‘serious reservations' about the ‘fairness, consistency and practicability' of the proposed changes.

In its official response, the organisation said: ‘The range of sanctions which can be imposed by the GMC are punitive in nature and warrant the retention of the criminal standard.

‘Reducing the standard of proof required when making decisions on disputed facts effectively dilutes the meaning of a finding of impaired fitness to practise without reducing the stigma attached to such a finding.'

The MDU also voiced strong opposition to the changes, which it said would result in inconsistent and unfair decisions in many cases, that could lead to a greater number of legal challenges.

Dr Christine Tomkins, MDU deputy chief executive, said: ‘We have never supported a change to the civil standard and we are not confident that the procedure the GMC has outlined in its consultation will produce fair or consistent decisions.'

Despite widespread anger at the plans, the GMC last week insisted that GP fury was down to a lack of understanding of the proposals.

However, the BMA once again stressed its opposition to the changes.

BMA chairman, Dr Hamish Meldrum, said in its response: ‘If a doctor is at risk of losing his or her livelihood then nothing less than the current criminal standard of proof will do and the BMA will do all it can to maintain this.

‘Any restriction on a doctor's ability to practise medicine, even quite limited conditions, can seriously damage their career and often ends their full-time employment and can compromise their position as a trainer.'

The GMC refused to comment on the latest criticisms.


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