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Justify your skills to keep GPSI status

By Ian Cameron

GPs with special interests will have to justify their skills before a panel of doctors and patients from next year in order to continue practising their specialty.

The requirement is part of a new accreditation scheme for GPSIs aimed at ensuring consistent standards.

The eight-strong panels will have the power to strip doctors of their GPSI status or restrict their specialist practice if they are not convinced of their competence.

They could also impose restrictions on GPSIs if they believe their generalist work is suffering from an undue focus on their specialism or if the location of the service or quality of facilities are not up to scratch.

Every GPSI must go through the process in the first six months of 2007, and be reaccredited every three years.

Dr Matt Walsh, a GP in Bradford who is leading the accreditation scheme for the Department of Health, said it was not intended to be punitive.

Panels will give advice to GPs they do not believe should be accredited and will inform PCTs and practice-based commissioning consortia of their decision.

'I can see accreditation being issued with caveats and provisos, and I can see accreditation being withheld,' said Dr Walsh.

There is no point in doing this unless you're willing to have those conversations. Commissioners have a responsibility to ensure they are commissioning services from people duly accredited.'

Local panels will include three GPs, a secondary care doctor from the relevant specialty, an LMC representative, a lay person, and clinical governance leads from secondary care and the commissioning organisation.

Dr Graham Archard, vice-chair of the RCGP, said

some patient services could

be disrupted as a result of GPSIs being prevented from practising. Some GPSIs may to go back to being a clinical assistant rather than go through accreditation so as to remain autonomous, he added.

Dr Stephen Hayes, a GPSI in dermatology, said many 'inappropriate' GPSI courses, particularly those in his field, may face the axe.

He said: 'Some PCTs, in order to save money, have set up services that depend on people who have not been trained to a good enough standard or have been set up without any reference to local deans.'

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