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At the heart of general practice since 1960

New health regulator to target GPs not dentists

By Ian Quinn

All GPs will come under the power of the new health regulator but dentists will be excluded, if proposals by the Healthcare Commission are accepted by the Government.

The Commission, which is set to be replaced by the proposed Care Quality Commission under the Government's Health and Social Care Bill says it would not be ‘realistic or desirable' to bring more than 60,000 new providers of out of hospital care under regulation by the new body.

‘We recognize that there are significant risks inherent in the provision of both primary medical care and primary dental care, but we propose that only primary medical care services should be included within scope, at least for the time being,' it says.

The Commission argues that GPs should be regulated ‘because it is becoming so difficult to clearly differentiate between primary, secondary and community services.'

'In contrast, dental services are much more distinct, and there is a single professional regulator,' it adds.

Meanwhile, former health minister Lord Warner added his voice to calls for all GPs to come under the scrutiny of the new regulator, when it launches in 2010. In a debate during the passage of the Bill in the Lords he criticised the Government for not having been firmer with its proposals.

‘I welcome the fact that in this new document the Government are moving towards including GPs and primary care in the new regulatory framework. Yet the issue should not still be in doubt. Some 85 per cent of the public's contact with the NHS is through GPs and primary care. If we are to have a risk-based regulatory system, as the Government rightly want, there can be no doubt about the inclusion of this sector in the regulatory framework.'

Last week the Government unveiled two possible models for the new regulator, one which would cover all 8,400 GPs, another which would monitor just the 1,750 practices housing GPSIs.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, said: 'We believe that it is now in the interests of patients for more services to come under the regulatory net including GP practices and other primary care medical services, as well as community nursing, therapy and ambulance services.

'This must be done in a way that is not heavy handed and does not put unnecessary burdens on those affected. This is not about catching out good practitioners. It is about giving proper assurance to patients in a proportionate way.

'Achieving this will mean drawing on accreditation processes, such as those of the Royal College of GPs, and other publicly available information.'

Lord Warner: former health minister says proposed GP regulation needs to be firmer Lord Warner: says proposed GP regulation needs to be firmer

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