Queen's speech reaction: GMC cannot improve GP regulation under current laws

The system for regulating doctors remains 'outdated and not fit for purpose', the GMC has warned after a proposed bill to reform the system was not mentioned during the Queen's speech.

Mr Dickson: 'A system everyone accepts is outdated and not fit for purpose.’
Mr Dickson: 'A system everyone accepts is outdated and not fit for purpose.’

Chief executive Niall Dickson said the GMC was ‘committed to introducing major reforms’ concerning how it regulated doctors, but it could not do this under current legislation.

Changes to the law – as recommended in the Regulation of Health and Social Care Professionals Bill – would allow it to ‘protect patients more effectively’ and ‘streamline and reduce the burden of regulation’.

Speaking in response to the Queen’s speech on Wednesday, he said: ‘We are deeply disappointed that the government has not taken this opportunity to improve patient safety by modernising the regulation of healthcare professionals.

‘The Mid-Staffordshire inquiry highlighted the vital importance of effective regulation focused on promoting safe, compassionate patient care, rather than, as too often in the past, intervening only after patients have been harmed.

‘In spite of all we have done to reform our services, the truth is that patients, professionals and the health service as a whole will now be left with a system everyone accepts is outdated and not fit for purpose.’

'Constrained' by current system

The GMC previously told GPOnline that it had struggled to triage complaints against doctors in a more effective manner due to ‘constraints’ of the current system.

‘I hope the government will make these reforms a priority and introduce legislation as soon as possible,’ Mr Dickson added.

‘If taken forward, the draft Bill by the Law Commissions of the UK would allow us to respond more quickly and effectively to protect patients and maintain the standards of good medical practice.

‘We do understand that the government wants to concentrate on the huge pressures on services and on front line professionals but we very much hope these important and long overdue reforms will be taken forward as soon as possible.’

GPs at the LMCs conference last week backed calls that the GMC needed to do more to protect and support doctors after hearing evidence that doctors under investigation by the regulator face a suicide risk 13 times higher than the general UK population.

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