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The GMC is demanding PCTs set up a comprehensive performance dossier on every GP to weed out poorly performing or potentially dangerous doctors.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, GMC president Professor Sir Graeme Catto said PCTs were failing to monitor GP performance and needed to be more rigorous in gathering and storing data.

Trusts needed to develop an electronic database on principals and sessional GPs including information on complaints, quality scores, patient and peer survey results, mortality rates and prescription and vaccination data.

GPs with 'irregularities' could then be more easily identified for possible investigation, he said.

'I can't say the current system is robust,' Sir Graeme said. 'PCTs need to know more about what is happening with their employees or contracting doctors. They need to have information for it to be robust.'

Monitoring complaints alone was not enough to identify potential problem GPs, he added.

Sir Graeme said the GMC was working with other regulatory agencies and the Government to get PCTs to adopt the system.

The news provoked an angry response from GPs, who said PCTs could not be trusted to use the information properly.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, said GPs were already monitored excessively: 'Any further monitoring would be obtrusive.'

Dr Robbie Coull, a sessional GP in north Scotland who was recently referred to the GMC over criticisms of NHS Orkney, said PCTs could use the information to control doctors.

Increased monitoring would undermine the relationship between GPs and their employers, he said.

'I don't think there is any evidence that PCTs can be trusted to do this properly,' Dr Coull said.

GPs recently accused PCTs of abusing their power to suspend doctors after statistics obtained by Pulse showed the number of suspensions had trebled in the past year.

Even NHS Employers, which represents PCTs, raised questions about trusts' ability to step up monitoring of GPs.

Alastair Henderson, deputy director, said PCTs did not have the capacity to do everything they were asked. Scrutiny of GPs was something they were 'beginning to get to grips with', he said.

By Daile Pepper

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