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Non-GPs appointed as responsible officers

Exclusive GPs in parts of England will be revalidated by responsible officers who are not practising GPs, a Pulse investigation has revealed. 

 Data obtained from 57 PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act revealed responsible officer positions in three PCTs are held by non-GPs, including public health consultants and paediatricians, while a further five posts are filled by non-practising GPs.

The remaining 49 PCTs indicated a current GP was their responsible officer.

A motion backed by representatives at the 2010 LMCs conference demanded responsible officers ‘must be a practising GP’. The RCGP said it was a ‘reasonable request’ to expect GPs were normally revalidated by fellow GPs and that where non-GPs were responsible officers, it was vital they sought advice and support from ‘respected’ local GPs.

Professor Mike Pringle, the RCGP’s clinical lead for revalidation, told Pulse: ‘We believe GPs should be revalidated by GPs. If the responsible officer isn’t a GP then they should have an adviser who is.’

NHS East Sussex Downs and Weald appointed Dr Diana Grice, the PCT’s medical director and a public health consultant, as a responsible officer in January 2011.

NHS County Durham and Darlington’s responsible officer is Dr Christine McLeod, a public health specialist and fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

NHS Lambeth appointed Dr Didi Ratnasinghe, a paediatrician, as a deputy responsible officer. Dr Ratnasinghe works alongside Dr Jane Fryer, a GP who leads on revalidation across four PCTs in the NHS South East London cluster.

Professor Pringle said he believed the planned revalidation roll-out deadline of late 2012 would not be derailed by ongoing disputes over remediation. The GPC has threatened to withdraw support for revalidation unless agreement is reached on funding remediation.

But Professor Pringle said revalidation ‘is not the make or break issue some members of the GPC seem to think’.