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18.07.16

GMC pilots scheme to reduce fitness to practise investigations

A scheme to cut the number of investigations into doctors deemed fit to practise is being piloted by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Under the scheme, the GMC will not immediately open an investigation into cases where doctors have allegedly made a mistake involving poor clinical care.

Instead, it will initially gather pieces of key information about the case. If the initial investigation shows that it was a one-off mistake and the doctor is taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again, the case can be closed. If not, the GMC will open a full investigation or refer the case to the doctor’s responsible officer.

Niall Dickson, the outgoing chief executive of the GMC, said: “A GMC investigation can place great pressure on the doctor involved and these pilots are the latest in a series of proposals to reduce the stress and make the whole process faster while continuing to make sure they are fair and we protect patients.”

The pilot is expected to reduce investigations by around 230 a year.

In addition, the GMC is piloting one of the recommendations of Sir Anthony Hooper’s review of how the GMC handles whistleblowers. It will require healthcare providers to disclose whether a doctor being complained about has previously raised patient safety issues.

The person making the complaints will also be required to make a declaration that the complaint is being made in good faith and steps have been taken to ensure that it is fair and accurate.

This is designed to help the GMC to assess whether a full investigation is necessary, and reduce the risk of doctors who have acted as whistleblowers subsequently being disadvantaged.

The pilots are being implemented in four parts of the UK for six months.

In addition, Professor Louis Appleby, professor of psychiatry at the University of Manchester, is helping the GMC review its investigation progress to see what changes could be made to support vulnerable doctors.

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