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Independents' Day

NCAS reports sharp drop in GP suspensions

The National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS) has urged GPs who are concerned over a colleague’s practice to come forward, after new data showed that the number of GPs suspended amid professional concerns almost halved last year.

NCAS has suggested that the sharp decline - from 84 GPs in 2010/11 to just 45 in 2011/12 – may not be caused by fewer concerns that could affect patient safety, but by ongoing reorganisation of PCOs.

It said it was expecting that figures will go back to normal when the new commissioning bodies have become established.

The sharp drop marks a 46% year-on-year drop and reverses an upward trend that had lasted over the previous five years. It was also not mirrored among doctors in secondary care, where the equivalent process of ‘exclusion’ of doctors was stable.

The NCAS report says: ‘In contrast with exclusions, there was a sharp fall in the number of new suspension episodes in the GP sector in 2011/12, with a rise in the average duration of episodes concluded 44 weeks. Use of suspension may have been affected by the reorganisation of primary care trusts.’

NCAS said it would monitor developments to see if the trend was on-going or not, and in the meantime urged NHS managers and colleagues with concerns to come forward.

NCAS director Lynn Hugo said: ‘We will be monitoring this over the next twelve months to see if this is an on-going trend. It’s important for NHS managers and their colleagues who have concerns about a GP’s practice to call us as soon as possible. If they are unsure of who is responsible for managing the concern, we will point them in the right direction.’

A DH spokesperson said: ‘There is no evidence to suggest that the NHS reforms are effecting the ability of PCTs to deal with issues of poor performance.  The NHS has a legal duty to ensure that doctors and dentists remain fit to practice.’

NCAS advises NHS organisations on professional concerns over doctors, dentists and pharmacists and also makes formal assessment of doctors. It receives around 900 referrals a year. NCAS is set to be assumed by the NHS LA from 1 April 2013 as an operating division.

Click here to read the report.


Readers' comments (8)

  • Vinci Ho

    Interesting with statistics,
    The number of complaints as per GMC went up dramatically and half of that was for GP,THEN
    number of GP suspensions went down substantially in same period
    What does this tell you ?Welcome all views.....

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  • According to my resources (aka my intuition) its because GPs aren't golf playing money grabbing vile idiots Waily Mail believes we are. In fact it's probably because many of these complaints are invalid/unsupported claims which rightly should rightly be dismissed.

    Sceptics in me tells me the media will say "that's because GMC's investigations are not fit for the purpose and GPs are being let off the hook when they should be sent to the mines, never to be seen again"

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  • It is sad that the tone of official comment from NCAS on the drop in issues in general practice is again presumptive of guilt and may be summarised as"they are happening but we are not finding them."
    I am aware of a difference between NHS Sefton PCT which has had 100% GP appraisal uptake for many years and an adjacent PCT which has never attained 100% uptake ,in terms of number of performers under investigation. Fewer where more comprehensive appraisal coverage has occured.
    I personally hope the ftrend shows us the profession have "worked through the backlog" and that the time and effort expended on appraisal and revalidation is being rewarded with higher professional standards of practice.
    Let us also be aware that NCAS does operate an excellent assessment of health performers , but on a "paid per case" basis so there is a vested financial interest in Lynn Hugos comment about maintaining a high referal rate to the service

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  • The drop in number of suspension because most of the GPs are harding working professionals and they are passionate about their job. Most of the alligations against them are unsupported and driven by this complaint culture.
    Why is NCAS not happy by the drop of the number of suspended GPs and why this negative attitude toward the GPs .

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  • Sadly there may be another reason; if GPs are suspended by the GMC, PCTs have perhaps started to realise that there is a major financial dis-incentve to also suspend them, since they then become eligible for financial support from the PCT. Suspension by the GMC does not confer that elibility, but from the PCT point of view the GP is just as unable to practice and the PCT may decide take no further action

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  • That means there is no needs to NCAS as there is no demand on the service. I have seen many cases where NCAS assessment was wrong and waste of money because when the GPs were referred to the GMC ,there were no reasons for concerns as raised by NCAS, which means complete waste of money by the PCT for NCAS referral .

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  • I agree with the above where many GPs has been given many instructions and recommendations in additions to mediation by the NCAS assessor which were un-necessary and in fact I had a friend of mine been miss diagnosed by NCAS with a disease which proved to be wrong by the second opinion which was sought privately and the GMC acknowledged that the NCAS assessment was unsatisfactory!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • People have begun to realize that the NCAS and GMC are part of the same police state, more interested in their own survival and advancement than the welfare of doctors.

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