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GP retirementJune 15 2016

The General Medical Council is finalising its proposals on how best to reduce the impact of investigations on doctors.

It has published a report based on a workshop held in April which considered proposals aimed at reducing the stress and impact that its fitness to practise hearings processes can have on doctors. A key consideration was doctors with health concerns.

Among the views expressed at the April workshop was that complaints and concerns should be dealt with locally where possible, until escalation became necessary.

Participants also felt it important that there should be:

• continuing education about thresholds for GMC referral and what should be dealt with locally
• better engagement and support for the doctor ahead of any referral to the GMC – following appropriate local policing in this regard
• ensuring involvement of the employer liaison service in advising on referrals.

Appropriate use of specialist input during the fitness to practise process was welcomed, but there were “mixed views about the nature of such specialist input including psychiatrists, GPs with special experience and occupational health physicians. Although the benefits of seeking advice and support from a specialist in determining a doctor’s fitness to practise were welcomed, there were concerns that the specialist should also assess whether the doctor is getting an appropriate level of treatment.”

Participants included Professor Louis Appleby, one of the UK’s leading mental health experts and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manchester. He was appointed by the GMC in December 2015 to provide independent advice on how the GMC can support vulnerable doctors.

The GMC has been reviewing the proposals about changes to the fitness to practise process and will share the finalised draft with the GMC’s Strategy and Policy Board for approval this summer. “We expect to start introducing a number of changes this year, once they’ve been agreed, with others being implemented from 2017. Those that require legislative change are likely to take longer to introduce,” it said.

Links:

GMC announcement

GMC Workshop report

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