Exclusive - Regulation is becoming too complicated, warns Catto

Outgoing GMC chairman decries piecemeal regulation

GPs are in danger of becoming over-regulated, outgoing GMC president Professor Sir Graeme Catto has warned.

Speaking to GP newspaper a week before he departs the GMC on 6 April, he said attempts to safeguard the public could overcomplicate regulation.

'There is a risk that government responds to each crisis by putting another bit in place. You end up with bits stuck on instead of a slimmed down, efficient model,' he said.

'There are so many regulators of different types, you can think of NICE, the Care Quality Commission as well as the GMC, and there may be more.'

Sir Graeme said GPs needed to help shape regulation, rather than oppose it.

'I do think that GPs need to spend some time making sure their case is heard, and their views are taken into account as systems change.'

Websites allowing patients to rate and comment on doctors, such as iwantgreatcare.org and NHS Choices, are 'inevitable', but must become more sophisticated, Sir Graeme said.

He defended changes to GMC policy he oversaw in his seven years in office.

Moving to equal doctor/lay membership had made the GMC more credible, he said. He denied claims that fitness-to-practise panels were heavy handed.

Revalidation, he said, was 'no longer controversial', assuring GPs that failing part of an appraisal would not mean 'sudden death'. 'If we get this right very few should run into difficulties. It ought to be appraisal one year, deficiencies pointed out, and the next year, we'll see what you've done about them.

'If after five years, you still can't draw blood, maybe something should be done. But it still doesn't necessarily mean you'll be stopped from practising.'

Meanwhile, the GMC is consulting on plans revealed last month by GP newspaper to speed up fitness-to-practise hearings.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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