GMC regulation plan for locum GPs

The GMC has drawn up a list of suggested criteria for sessional GPs to follow in order to avoid 'heavy-handed' regulation.

Last year the GMC council gave the green light to plans for a two-tier system of regulation, where those working within an approved environment would face 'light-touch' regulation.

Those who did not would face stiffer regulation, with revalidation tests focusing on patient and colleague questionnaires.

The move caused consternation among rural, sessional and single-handed GPs, prompting the National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP) to agree some guidelines with the GMC to ensure light-touch regulation for its members.

The GMC has outlined three criteria to be met: clear policies aimed at managing risks; procedures to remedy poor performance; and a programme of quality-improvement activities.

The proposals on quality improvement require evidence of the GP's adherence to clinical guidelines, life-long learning, audit and effective monitoring of clinical care.

The GMC said that providing evidence of participation in these activities would confer a lighter-touch regulation for sessional GPs.

In addition, the NASGP is offering to set up a structured programme for its members to follow.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chief executive, said: 'Working independently makes it difficult for many of us to collect sufficient evidence to support our participation in ongoing professional development that shows we are not at high risk.'

He hoped the GMC's guidelines would mean 'flexible' GPs who wished to work independently would not be penalised.

Dr Susan Taylor, chairwoman of the Remote and Rural Practitioners Association, and a GP in Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, said the guidelines were promising.

She said that although the burden of producing protocols on a small practice was quite large, there were measures already aimed at managing clinical risk built into the quality framework that could be adapted.

'Appraisals might also cover these things and many of the referral figures and other procedures could be carried out by health boards,' she said.

The GMC will continue developing the idea after the CMO's report on regulation next month.

GMC CRITERIA

Light-touch regulation requires evidence of:

- Risk-management policies.

- Procedures for identifying and remedying poor performance.

- Programme of quality improvement.

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