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GMC's plea not to overburden GPs

The GMC has warned the Shipman Inquiry not to make recommendations that would place 'undue burdens' on GPs as it would affect patient care.

In his opening statement to the fourth stage of the inquiry, counsel for the GMC, Roger Henderson QC, said there was a danger changes to the system in order to prevent another Shipman could go too far.

He said: 'If undue burdens are placed on practitioners in order to deal with the possibility that they might be wickedly abusing their position of trust, it could adversely effect the time which they give to patients and the overall standards of care could be impaired.'

The fourth and final stage of the inquiry will look at GMC disciplinary systems and is expected to be highly critical.

Counsel for the Tameside Families Support Group, Richard Lissack QC, called for the GMC to be replaced with an independent body.

The GMC's current reforms were 'too little, too late' because its lack of independence still left the system 'fundamentally flawed', he said.

'We suspect that any new regime would be a great deal less complicated than the present arrangement and ultimately less costly to run,' Mr Lissack said.

The 'new regime' would be independent of the medical profession and capable of handling local cases under national guidelines. He added it should keep a register of all proven complaints and that these should be disclosed to any employer ­ whether in the NHS or private sector.

Lead Counsel for the inquiry, Caroline Swift QC, said it would consider whether a separate body should be created to investigate serious cases. This body would then present its findings to the GMC.

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