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The GMC wants to recruit an extra 70 doctors to its fitness to practise panels to help cope with an increase in complaints.

The number of open fitness to practise cases has nearly doubled in the past year, leading to major delays in handling complaints.

Cases are taking four to six months to deal with, far longer than the GMC's target of three months.

New recruits will replace GMC members who currently sit on fitness to practise panels as part of a drive by the council to separate its investigative and adjudication functions.

GPs taken on will have to devote 20 days a year in at least four blocks of five days at a time. The GMC will pay £275 per day, plus up to £400 to cover locum costs.

Dr Krishna Korlipara, a GP member of the GMC council, said the investment of up to £560,000 a year was worth making. He said: 'It is taking four to six months to deal

with these cases and we want to get that down to a maximum of three months as it is causing a lot of distress for those involved.'

In addition to the extra panellists the GMC is also set to double the number of case examiners from nine to 18.

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