GPs will only be removed from the performers list after they have been fully investigated by the regulator, under new proposals devised by the Department of Health.
Under the existing 2013 regulations, NHS England is required to remove GPs from the performers list when they have been suspended by the GMC.
However, the Department of Health has proposed that the current regulation should be reverted back to the 2004 regulations – where primary care trusts were not required to take any action if a performer was made the subject of an interim order for suspension.
GP leaders have said that the regulations as they stand must be changed as they unfairly discriminate against GPs who are under investigation without have been found guilty of impropriety.
In the Department of Health’s consultation document, the performers lists and suspension, it says the impact of the current 2013 regulations is ‘disproportionate’.
The report states: ‘The Department of Health has reviewed the 2013 regulations and considers the impact of this change is disproportionate and, as the imposition of an interim suspension order is a neutral act (i.e. it is not intended to punish), this should not result in removal from the performers lists.’
‘Department has discussed this with NHS England, which agrees an amendment should be made to the 2013 regulations so a performer is not removed from the performers list when subject to an interim suspension order by their regulator.’
It also provides another option, which would see doctors beign removed from the performers list when under investigation, but continuing to receive pay.
Chair of the GPC’s contract and regulation subcommittee Dr Robert Morley said: ‘Why should they need to consult anyway? Suspension is supposedly a neutral act but with this regulation as it stands is clearly far from neutral. A GP suspended under GMC interim orders, must, under the current regulation, be removed from the performers list and therefore be denied income as well as the ability to work.
‘And, of course, if there are subsequently no adverse findings – they would still have to reapply for admission to the performers list with all the bureaucracy and hoop jumping that entails.’