Legal warning on DoH claims plan

GPs could be forced to report clinical negligence claims and PCTs may be handed powers to suspend practitioners with immediate effect.

A DoH document published last week, Tackling Concerns Locally: the Performers List System, set 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, including where a doctor practises or where surgery is involved.

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Karen Roberts said 70 per cent of claims were discontinued. 'Most of the remainder 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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