Fitness-to-practise proof standard change is 'assault on our profession'

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Mel-drum has written to all BMA members condemning proposed UK regulation changes as an ‘as-sault on our profession’.

Hamish Meldrum
Hamish Meldrum

The government wants to move away from the current criminal standard of proof (beyond reasonable doubt) to a civil standard (balance of probabilities) in fitness-to-practise cases.

The GMC is consulting on plans to move to the civil standard suggested in a government White Paper published in February.

Dr Meldrum said: ‘If a doctor stands to lose his or her livelihood then nothing less than the current criminal standard of proof will do and we will do all we can to maintain this. We believe a lesser standard of proof could result in unjustified adverse findings against the doctor.’

The BMA also does not believe it is necessary to change to an independent adjudicator, essentially the end of professionally-led regulation.

The BMA is concerned about the operation and role of ‘responsible officers’ and ‘GMC affiliates’, saying these roles could seriously blur employment and regulation functions.

On revalidation, the BMA opposes ‘any attempts to impose unrealistic and time-consuming mechanisms that will remove doctors from time with their patients’.

It is also against plans to end elections by the profession for medical GMC members and replace these with direct appointments by the Public Appointments Commission.

Meanwhile, the BMA has also questioned the cost-effectiveness of the polyclinic plan proposed for London by health minister Lord Darzi.

Dr Meldrum added: ‘It would be much better to invest in existing GP services, and where necessary district general hospitals, rather than imposing costly, unproven polyclinics.

‘The suggestion that private companies could run polyclinics would, in reality, destroy the UK model of general practice and threaten many district general hospitals.’

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