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Sessional GPs urged to link up

The GMC is urging sessional GPs to set up support networks to prevent them being labelled 'high risk' under its new proposals for revalidation.

Locums should consider joining forces into small groupings or partnering with practices to enable closer day-to-day scrutiny of their performance.

Sessional GPs working alone could also take steps to improve their personal audit and clinical governance procedures.

The advice came after the National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP) raised concerns about the GMC's proposals to toughen revalidation for GPs working outside an 'approved environment'.

It told the GMC at a recent meeting that sessional GPs believed the plans meant they would be targeted because they were more likely to work alone.

Criteria for an approved environment include appropriate supervision arrangements and procedures to identify poor performance.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the NASGP and a freelance GP in Chichester, West Sussex, said he felt it had been 'almost a revelation' to the GMC that sessional GPs could provide their own approved environment.

Dr Fieldhouse, who is director of a 12-strong sessional GP 'chambers' in his area, said peer-review through regular meetings with other doctors could help sessional GPs achieve 'low-risk' status.

He suggested individual locums not part of a support team could get themselves 'adopted' by a practice in order to access a group of doctors to work with.

Those who stayed 'totally out of touch with the system' could find it hard to prove their quality.

Dr Fieldhouse said: 'If you just do it by yourself, it's possible. It'll just be a bit more complex and they'll have to be a bit more creative to make sure their systems are robust.'

Dr Victoria Weeks, chair of the BMA sessional GPs' sub-committee, said it was vital that appraisal for sessional GPs and their continuing professional development were supported.

She said: 'My understanding is that any GP who undertakes appraisal on an annual basis would be considered to be part of a managed organisation and therefore not high-risk.'

Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson is due to present the results of his review of revalidation and the role of the GMC in the next couple of months.

How to be GMC 'approved'

  • Clear policies aimed at managing risks
  • Procedures to identify and remedy poor performance
  • A programme of quality improvement activities, including:
  • Clinical guidelines
  • CPD/lifelong learning
  • Audit
  • Effective monitoring of clinical care
  • Research and development
  • Security of patient information

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