Saturday, June 23, 2012

Patients Association says Doctors’ checks needed to maintain trust in quacks

Patients Association says Doctors’ checks needed to maintain trust in quacks

by Stephen Adams,
June 12th 2012

Doctors’ checks ‘needed now to maintain trust in medics’, says Patients Association

Patients’ trust in doctors will fall if doctors are allowed to hold up compulsory checks being brought in to ensure they are still competent, Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has been warned.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of The Patients Association, said doctors had been allowed to get away with “a decade of delays” in bringing in the system of five-yearly checks, known as revalidation.

She has written to Mr Lansley arguing that he should press ahead with its introduction, after the British Medical Association called for revalidation to be pushed back further.

In April, Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA chairman, wrote that NHS systems to check on doctor were “still not sufficiently developed”.

“The lack of progress leads us to question whether the timetable can be met,” he said.

However, Ms Murphy said: “We cannot afford to continue stalling, now is not the time for further delay.

“It has been 13 years since revalidation was first suggested and we have waited long enough.

“We appreciate the need for this to be implemented correctly, however further delays will only put at risk patient trust in doctors which is so fundamental to effective patient care.”

In a letter to Mr Lansley, she said revalidation had been “successfully resisted” by doctors, leading to “a decade of delays and excuses”.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said it was “major patient safety issue” that should be addressed without further delay.

He said: “It’s completely unacceptable that we have a register at the moment that just tells you a doctor passed an exam 25 years ago.”

He contrasted doctors with pilots, who face hundreds of tests throughout their careers to maintain their licences.

A BMA spokesman said while it supported “the principle of revalidation”, it was “essential that suitable, robust systems are in place”.

She added: “It is essential that revalidation does not add another layer of bureaucracy to the doctor’s role.

“This does not make sense at a time when doctors are facing increasing pressure to spend more time with their patients.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The plan is for revalidation to be introduced in December, subject to approval by the Secretary of State.”

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