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Independents' Day

Sign up to our campaign

Of all Sir Liam Donaldson's proposals to overhaul medical regulation, his plan to weaken the standard of proof required to declare a doctor unfit to practise is the most misguided. That is why today we are launching a campaign with the aim of ensuring this dangerous change does not happen.

It is unfair that a judgment that could cost a doctor their career is not subject to the highest standard of proof. Otherwise such decisions become a hostage to luck, opinion and emotion with the facts lost in the mix. Doctors of all types will be affected, unsure whether a mistake or minor complaint could see them facing this lottery.

Defensive medicine

Weakening the standard from the criminal 'beyond reasonable doubt' to the civil 'balance of probabilities' will lodge in doctors' subconscious. And with every difficult diagnosis, every referral and every prescription given or declined, it will nag away.

'What if I'm wrong? My career could be over.'

And where doctors are in doubt, more will err on the side of caution. They'll offer the prescription, not wait and see. They'll refer, just in case. They'll be defensive. That might not be Sir Liam's intention, but it will happen. And it will be costly for the NHS and bad for patients.

In our recent survey, 86 per cent of GPs opposed this proposal. Sign our petition and make your voice heard.

Anonymous, editor

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