This site is intended for health professionals only

MPs call for GMC to use revalidation to tackle bad GPs

By Ian Quinn

MPs have called on the GMC to toughen up revalidation and use the scheme's powers to drive out bad doctors, claiming the existing plans fail to do enough to protect patients.

A report by the influential health committee urges the GMC to draw up guidance to give responsible officers a clear charter to crack down on GPs whose performance has raised concerns. Pulse previously revealed one GP in 10 taking part in trials of the system have had concerns raised, despite being self-selected for their interest in appraisal.

The report says: ‘Too little attention has been given to how to deal with doctors whose practice gives cause for concern. We regard this as an important weakness in the proposals that the GMC needs to address.'

'The Committee is concerned that the instinctive use of the word ‘remediation' in cases where a doctor's performance gives cause for concern may have the effect of pre-judging the appropriate response to a particular set of circumstances.

'While it is important to ensure that the rights and legitimate interests of doctors are safeguarded, the primary purpose of revalidation is to protect the interests of patients.

'The Committee therefore recommends that the GMC must publish clear guidance to Responsible Officers about how they should deal with the cases of doctors whose performance gives rise to concern.'

The run-up to revalidation has already seen a surge in the number of doctors referred to the National Clinical Assessment Service.

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair, said the report ‘showed a lack of understanding': ‘Revalidation is not a witch-hunt for poorly performing doctors. Identifying poor performance is part of it but also proper training and support.'

MPs also urged the GMC to do more to tackle the issue of language training among foreign GPs, after a Pulse investigation found only a small minority of EU doctors were tested.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'We are continuing to explore with the GMC whether there is the scope for a GMC led system of checks on the language knowledge of EEA doctors that would be consistent with the EU Directive.'

The GMC said: 'The report rightly highlights areas where more work is needed. Introducing revalidation by the end of 2012 remains our number one priority.'

MPs are calling for revalidation to be far more punitive Revalidation of doctors