DoH to force GPs to report clinical negligence claims

GPs could be forced to report clinical negligence claims and primary care trusts (PCTs) may be handed powers to suspend practitioners with immediate effect under DoH plans.

A DoH document published last week, 'Tackling Concerns Locally: the Performers List System' sets out plans to ensure there are adequate measures to identify and handle concerns about doctors’ performance.

But the Medical Defence Union (MDU) has warned negligence claims are an inaccurate indicator of poor performance.

It said the incidence of clinical negligence claims varies according to factors unrelated to competence.

These include whether a doctor practises in an area where patients bring more claims, such as the north west of England, or where surgery is involved.

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Karen Roberts said 70% of claims were discontinued.

‘Most of the remaining 30% are settled out of court with no admission of liability,’ she added.

It can take six to eight years from an incident occurring to settlement.

Dr Roberts said trusts should instead concentrate on improving local clinical governance arrangements.

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