Remediation funding must be available UK-wide, says GPC

GP leaders have called for devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to fund remediation for doctors who need need it, after the NHS Commissioning Board (NCB) agreed to fund it in England.

Dr Laurence Buckman: funding for remediation must be agreed UK-wide
Dr Laurence Buckman: funding for remediation must be agreed UK-wide

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman confirmed that a deal announced on Thursday by the BMA covered funding for remediation only for doctors in England.

He confirmed that funding would cover practices' backfill costs and the cost of training placements where doctors undergo remediation away from their own practice. Funding would have to be approved by responsible officers (ROs), the local senior doctors who will advise the GMC on doctors' suitability for revalidation.

Dr Buckman said he hoped the other UK countries would follow suit and warned they ‘would have to think of a good reason’ not to do so.

'This deal is for England only,' he said. 'The other countries have to say what they are going to do. I would hope that the other countries will take their cue from this and follow suit. We can’t guarantee that will happen. I hope they do. They would have to think of a good reason why not.'

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter said the association's decision to back revalidation after the remediation deal 'does not mean revalidation is currently in a perfect state'.

But he said: 'We do take some confidence in the work that has been done in the last few years in partnership with a large number of organisations, prompted and pushed every step of the way by the BMA. He added: ‘We have no reason to think that the other countries will stand out against it. We hope, and we will continue to press, that the same principle is applied and it would be logical given the past history of developments in this area.’

Dr Buckman added: 'We were negotiating with the NCB and the DH in England although this is not a devolved matter so in theory one might be forgiven to be assuming this will apply to all four countries. But I can’t tell you that it has been agreed in four countries because it hasn’t to date.’

Dr Buckman said that negotiations were difficult and that although further funding details are yet to be confirmed, he thinks money will not be coming from CCG budgets.

He said: ‘Discussions to date have been centered on this being centrally organised because funding would have to be released centrally. I don’t think individual CCGs will be expected to pay for this.

Dr Buckman said criteria that will determine whether individual GPs receive funding for remediation are yet to be finalised. ‘Funding isn’t just handed over if you need remediation. There is a set of hurdles to go through and we are going to have to discuss those at length with the NCB.

'The obvious hurdles are ones where remediation isn’t appropriate or where you have had remediation before and it hasn’t worked. There is long list of potential reasons why you wouldn’t get access to this. But at the end of it the NCB’s RO will decide, based on advice from the doctor’s RO.’

Statements from the governments of the devolved nations

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said: ‘The Scottish government need to consider the specifics of what has been announced by the DH. We will also be having further discussions with BMA Scotland on this.’

A Welsh government spokeswoman said: ‘NHS Wales has always recognised the employers' responsibility to support remediation. The Welsh government has already established a steering group, to work in partnership with stakeholders to consolidate the arrangements in place to ensure that all doctors in Wales will be appropriately supported where remediation is required.’

A government spokesman for Northern Ireland said: ‘The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has noted the decision made by the DH concerning remediation arrangements for GPs in England and will consider it in the development of arrangements in Northern Ireland.’

‘It is particularly important to emphasise that this does not mean revalidation is currently in a perfect state; that it is going to be implemented without any problems, or without any further work. But we do take some confidence in the work that has been done in the last few years in partnership with a large number of organisations, prompted and pushed every step of the way by the BMA working on behalf of its members in order to ensure that revalidation does not become an onerous concern for individual doctors. And we expect that work to continue as revalidation is rolled out.
‘We have no reason to think that the other countries will stand out against it. We hope, and we will continue to press, that the same principle is applied and it would be logical given the past history of developments in this area.’

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