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Most 'poor' GPs are men over 50

Four in five GPs referred to the Government watchdog for poorly-performing doctors are over the age of 50, new figures reveal. And 80 per cent of cases sent to the National Clinical Assessment Authority relate to male GPs, writes Rob Finch.

The first breakdown of GP referrals made by primary care organisations to the authority was published by the Chief Medical Officer last week.

The figures highlight the fact older male GPs are at higher risk of scrutiny ­ over-50s make up just one in three of the GP workforce and 64 per cent of GPs are men, according to the RCGP.

The authority refused to release an ethnic breakdown of referrals, because of fears the data may be misinterpreted.

But Dr Krishna Korlipara, the longest-serving GMC member and a GP in Bolton, said it was 'reasonable to speculate' there would be a substantial number of overseas GPs among the referrals as many first-generation overseas-trained doctors were nearing retirement.

He doubted there was explicit racism by PCO managers, adding: 'I'm not saying there's no discrimination but the more overriding problem is they tend to be in singlehanded practices in deprived areas.'

Professor Richard Baker, professor of clinical governance at the University of Leicester, said it was well known GPs' performance declined with age as training was overtaken by clinical developments.

The authority said fewer than 10 of around 200 GP referrals so far had resulted in full assessment, with the rest resolved through advice and informal long-term monitoring.

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