GPs to revalidate practice staff

GPs will become the effective regulators for all their practice staff, under UK-wide DoH plans.

In a consultation paper released at the same time as the CMO for England Sir Liam Donaldson's report into doctors' regulation (GP, 21 July), the DoH has suggested an 'employer-led' regulation system for all other NHS professionals.

The move would see GPs carrying out a revalidation-style process for all non-medical professionals in their practices every five years, using standards set by the Healthcare Commission.

It would make GPs responsible for decisions such as whether practice nurses are fit to stay on the nursing register.

The suggestion has been criticised by GPs and employees' groups alike.

Deputy chairman of the GPC Dr Laurence Buckman said GPs did not want anything to do with revalidating another profession.

'I don't think any of this should be employer-led,' he said.

'Employers have too many conflicting interests to act as objective assessors. All professions should be assessed by their regulatory body.'

Jenny Aston, committee member of the Nurse Practitioner Association, said she would prefer other nurses testing their fitness to practise rather than GPs, who had little time and did not necessarily have the right knowledge.

'GPs would not be appropriate people because, firstly, they would never have enough time to do it properly and, secondly, they don't understand the difference between what nurses do compared with doctors,' she said.

'They have never got over the idea of nurses as hand-maidens.'

She also pointed out that even GPs acting as prescribing mentors were sometimes unaware of the prescribing education nurses underwent.

Currently, practice nurses are required to compile a learning portfolio, which they submit every five years for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The NMC reviews a random selection of these.

The DoH consultation paper argues that if regulators work through employers it will save duplication of what both parties require of a new employee.

It says: 'When a professional starts their first job they have to get on to a regulator's register and satisfy the requirements of their employer.

'Employers and regulators should co-ordinate their requirements so that the person provides each piece of information only once.'

The proposals, laid out in 'The Regulation of Non-Medical Healthcare Professions: a review by the DoH', are out for consultation until 10 November.

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