A new tribunal service to decide on the fitness to practise of UK doctors was launched on 11 June, in the biggest shake up of medical regulation in the United Kingdom since the formation of the General Medical Council more than 150 years ago.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), based in Manchester and headed by a judge, will be part of the GMC, but will operate separately from it and be accountable to parliament. The GMC will continue to investigate and prosecute cases.
MPTS panels have the power to, in the most serious cases, remove or suspend a doctor from the medical register or place restrictions on their practice. They can also take early action by considering cases before a full fitness to practise hearing, where it may be appropriate to place restrictions on a doctor’s practice immediately or suspend their practice while investigations proceed.
"MPTS panels have the power to, in the most serious cases, remove or suspend a doctor from the medical register or place restrictions on their practice"
The move paves the way for far reaching reforms of the fitness to practise procedures expected to come into force over the next few years.
Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the GMC, said: “Although panels already make their decisions independently, it is important that their autonomy is clear and that the oversight of their work is quite separate from our investigatory activity. We hope that the MPTS will strengthen professional and public confidence that our hearings are impartial, fair and transparent – the fact that the service is led by a judicial figure who has a direct line to parliament should provide that assurance.”
David Pearl, the judge and independently appointed chair of MPTS, said: “One of my earliest priorities is to make improvements to the way that panelists are trained and performance managed through regular appraisal and quality assurance, which will bolster the quality of decision making.”
Later this year the GMC plans to pilot a proposed new system of consensual disposal, which would allow a doctor to avoid a public hearing by accepting a suggested sanction. The doctor would attend a meeting to explain the circumstances and put forward mitigation at an early stage.
Also this year, the GMC will be deploying regional liaison officers to liaise with employers and support responsible officers, with the aim of identifying and tackling underperforming doctors early.
For more information visit: www.gmc-uk.org/news/13286.asp
Junior doctors told to shadow jobs to improve safety
Junior doctors will have to spend at least four days shadowing their first job in the NHS before starting work, the government has announced. The new system will be introduced in England this August when the new intake of junior doctors is taken on.
NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said the move would help improve patient safety. Sir Bruce said: “This shadowing period could potentially save lives and will equip new junior doctors with the local knowledge and skills needed to provide safe, high quality patient care.”
Dr Tom Dolphin, of the BMA, said: “I think it will really help doctors hit the ground running. It is a stressful time starting your first job so this will be a good way of easing that.”
"Junior doctors will have to spend at least four days shadowing their first job in the NHS before starting work"
The decision to introduce shadowing comes after pilots have been carried out in various places. In Bristol mistakes new doctors made in their first four months were reduced by 52% during the pilot.
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