At present doctors are not subject to regular mandatory checks on their performance. Under the present system if the conduct of a doctor raises serious concerns then the matter can be referred to the General Medical Council (GMC). If the GMC identify a need then the doctor will be the subject of the GMC disciplinary regime.
The issue with the present system is that problems are only identified after the event.
The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has now advised that from December 2012, doctors will have to undergo annual appraisals, with a decision taken every five years on whether they are fit to continue working. The scheme will initially be brought out for senior medical staff with the scheme being rolled out to all doctors in April 2013.
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, emphasised that the purpose of the reforms was to identify gaps in practice and to give doctors the opportunity to improve. However, speaking on BBC’s breakfast show last week he made it clear that if doctors failed to satisfy the standards of the General Medical Council (GMC) they would be prevented from practising.
It is hoped that the new system will be able to identify and address problems before events occur. In this way it is hoped that the new system will improve quality across the board.
The new system will run along side the GMC disciplinary regime and it is possible that issues identified in the annual appraisals may be referred to the GMC for consideration.
If you require more information regarding a possible medical negligence claim please contact the team.