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Record numbers of GPs referred for performance problems in run-up to revalidation

By Ian Quinn

The run-up to revalidation has seen a major surge in the number of doctors being referred to the National Clinical Assessment Service, it was revealed today.

The organisation said it had dealt with its highest number of referrals ever in a single six-month period.

There were 423 doctors referred to NCAS by trusts from April to September last year, compared with 363 in the same period in 2009. 200 of those referred were GPs, according to the report, which concluded: ‘The growth shown here is exceptional and may be associated with the approach of medical revalidation.’

NCAS director Professor Alastair Scotland said: ‘I believe the statistics are linked to efforts by NHS organisations to strengthen governance systems in advance of medical revalidation coming into force, rather than an upsurge in performance problems.’

‘These data point to a concerted effort by health services to go upstream and address difficulties at the earliest opportunity.’

In the six-month period between April and September 2010, NHS organisations made 525 requests for advice on handling of concerns about practitioner performance, with 492 requests about the work of specific practitioners.

Professor Scotland added: ‘If revalidation is effective, we should see concerns identified well before they become ingrained and much more difficult to address, with the clear aim of avoiding harm to patients.’

NCAS was previously part of the National Patient Safety Agency, which the Government announced would be scrapped as part of its bonfire of the quangos, but the service plans to carry on as a self-funding organisation.

Record numbers of GPs referred for performance problems in run-up to revalidation