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The GMC has admitted it expects the Shipman Inquiry to make further criticisms of its plans for revalidation when it reports later this year.

GMC chief executive Finlay Scott said the council was in a 'period of uncertainty' until the inquiry's findings were published.

He also conceded there were 'real challenges' to implementation of revalidation next year.

Speaking at the launch of the council's annual report, Mr Scott said the GMC was ready to make further changes to its policies in the light of the inquiry's recommendations.

'It seems obvious the inquiry was concerned at the preparedness, of primary care in particular, for revalidation in 2005,' he said. 'I imagine it will say something about that.'

But he added he did not believe there was another means of revalidation which would improve on the GMC's current proposals.

He said. 'I would be surprised if there is a model waiting to be discovered that would be a better approach.'

Mr Scott said he believed the GMC had 'seized the challenge' laid down by the Shipman Inquiry and 'should not be judged by the GMC of the past'.

Dr John Grenville, a GP in Derby who gave evidence to the inquiry, said the GMC needed to brace itself for alternative models of revalidation to be recommended.

He said he believed the inquiry was concerned a system of annual appraisal, sign-off of doctors' performance by clinical governance leads and revalidation would not inspire enough public confidence.

'A number of alternatives were explored such as formal testing or reports,' he said. 'Other methods may take longer to implement but the GMC should be bracing itself for those to be recommended.'

The Shipman Inquiry has delayed publication of its fifth report, dealing with the regulation of GPs, until autumn to enable it to investigate deaths certified by Shipman when he worked at Pontefract General Infirmary in Yorkshire.

By Ian Cameron

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