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Doctors to be annually assessed under new plans

23 July 2008

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Doctors face having their licences removed if they fail new annual assessments, according to plans outlined by the Chief Medical Officer.

GPs, hospital consultants and private practitioners will also have to renew their licences every five years under plans to be announced by Sir Liam Donaldson.

He will call for senior doctors to assess others who are practising in their area to ensure they are not putting patients at risk. Patients will also be asked for their feedback during the assessment process.

Sir Liam’s report, Medical Revalidation: Principle and Next Steps, will also suggest steps to ensure that doctors keep up-to-date with medical advances.

The annual assessments will look at prescribing habits, adequate assessment of a patient’s condition and any personal issues that might affect their work, like a problem with drugs of alcohol.

Harold Shipman, the GP who murdered at least 215 victims by giving lethal morphine injections between 1975 and 1998, was addicted to the painkiller pethidine and was convicted of prescribing it for personal use.

He also unlawfully acquired the diamorphine he used to kill.

He was convicted in January 2000 of murdering 15 of his patients and jailed for life but hanged himself from his cell window at Wakefield Prison in January 2004.

The report is expected to say that regular assessment would raise standards among the 150,000 doctors practising in Britain rather than being a way to discipline those who do cause concern.

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Department of Health

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“Unlikely. Shipman was a murderer and whether he was a competent doctor who could pass appraisals and convince peers of his ability has little bearing on his murderous activities” – Name and address withheld