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DH plans move away from ‘local doctor only’ policies with national performers’ list

Exclusive: The NHS Commissioning Board is drawing up plans for a national performers' list, in a move away from ‘local doctor only' policies developed by trusts to prevent a repeat of the Dr Daniel Ubani out-of-hours case.

Pulse has learnt that the Department of Health will consult on changes to the regulations around the performers' lists, in order for doctors on the list to work anywhere in the country from April next year.

The move flies in the face of the ‘local doctor only' policies implemented in many trusts following the high-profile death of Cambridgeshire patient David Gray. German locum Dr Ubani administered a lethal overdose to Mr Gray in 2008 and featured on a PCT performers list in Cornwall at the time, but not locally.

Following the high-profile case, a Pulse investigation last year found PCTs across the country had brought in new rules restricting out-of-area doctors filling out-of-hours shifts.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘The responsibility to maintain a national medical performers list, which ensures patients are protected patients from unsuitable or inefficient doctors, will sit with the NHS Commissioning Board from April 2013.

‘The Commissioning Board is currently developing the processes it will use to manage the list. The Department of Health is currently updating the regulations around the list, which will be consulted on in the Summer.'

Dr Stuart Gray, a GP in Kidderminster, West Midlands, and Mr Gray's son, said he was concerned as the systems put in place locally were good.

‘If they are going to scrap everything at a local level that would be a bad thing. The dream for me would be a national system which incorporates best practices from the area, and is accountable at the local level. Every locality is different, so you do need to be able to tweak it locally.'

Dr Shane Gordon, a GP in Tiptree, Essex, and CEO of the North East Essex CCG GP Commissioning Federation Co-Lead, said that a national performers list was a 'sensible' idea.

He said: ‘Local lists create genuine problem if you haven't got the labour, this sounds like it could be a solution to the problem. It makes sense to have one place to flag up complaints about individual performers.'