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Friday 20th April 2018

'Good doctors, safer patients'?

25th July 2006

04032006_DoctorAtPC1.jpgChief Medical Officer (CMO), Sir Liam Donaldson's review of medical regulation recommended the standard of proof be lowered for fitness-to-practise procedures.

He proposes a shift from the criminal standard - beyond reasonable doubt - to the civil standard, based on a balance of probabilities. The CMO's review was commissioned following the Shipman Inquiry.

Sir Liam said this would reduce the number of cases where a doctor is judged not 'bad enough' to enter formal GMC cases but is still a cause of serious concern. However BMA council chairman Mr James Johnson claimed the move 'opens the door to miscarriages of justice which will devastate the lives of doctors'.

The review also proposes powers of adjudication in fitness-to-practise cases be removed from the GMC. Instead, cases would be heard by an independent tribunal with a legal chairman. Sir Graeme Catto, GMC president, argued there was little evidence to support the change.

The GMC president said that he was pleased to see the incorporation of some priorities for making medical regulation more effective, for example greater patient and public involvement, better co-coordination between employers and the GMC, easier access for patients and employers to information about their doctors, and better targeting of regulatory resources.

However, the GMC had 'considerable concerns' about the proposals for the GMC to relinquish control of medical education, which it believed would not be in the patient's best interest. Sir Graeme urged doctors to make their views known in the review's consultation.

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