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Performers lists on way out

By Steve Nowottny

GPs have backed a Government bid to replace PCT performers lists with a national medical register.

The Department of Health has launched a consultation to quiz PCTs and other interested parties on the plans, which were first outlined in the chief medical officer's report Good Doctors, Safer Patients last July.

Under the proposals the national GP register would contain tiers of information, some publicly available, others with restricted access, about each doctors and their standard of practice.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said when the plans were discussed at its last meeting, there had been 'disquiet' about the way PCTs operated performers lists. 'There was a feeling some PCTs are using them in a very heavy-handed way,' he said.

'There was a real consensus that with the proposed changes to the GMC and the introduction of a GP register we should look at how any UK-wide register could be used instead.'

Performers lists have long caused concern among some GPs, with accusations of PCTs abusing their power to remove GPs.

Last year the number of GPs removed almost trebled, with the Family Health Services Appeals Authority receiving 175 notifications of removal. Yet the number of GPs suspended was 69, an increase of just eight.

A spokesperson for the Medical Protection Society said it 'absolutely' backed plans to replace performers lists, and had assisted in a number of cases where PCTs had failed to follow correct procedure.

The Medical Defence Union also welcomed the plans.Dr Simon Parkinson, secretary of Worcestershire LMC, said that while PCTs in his area had 'acted very well' when issues had arisen, a national list would be safer and more consistent.

'We have had an instance of a GP about whom there were concerns elsewhere slipping through the net for a while,' he said.The performers list consultation closes on 15 June.

PCTs in wrong

The plan for a national register follows two recent cases in which PCTs were ruled to have acted improperly.

In January last year two GPs, Dr Jayanti Ghosh and an unnamed GP, successfully contested the decision by Northumberland Care Trust and Knowsley PCT to refuse them legal representation and the right to cross-examine witnesses at their removal hearings.

Two months later, Waltham Forest PCT was found to have acted unlawfully after suspending GP Dr Zafar Malik without informing him of the allegations against him or giving him a chance to respond.

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