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GMC has to remain the only regulator, MPS said

by Valeria Fiore
24 January 2018

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The General Medical Council (GMC) should keep its functions of regulator of the medical profession, said the Medical Protection Society (MPS).

Following a Department of Health (DH) consultation on the reform of the current regulatory system that closed yesterday, 23 January, the MPS said that the creation of a new ‘super regulator’ or large scale amalgamation would cause ‘a lack expertise and understanding of the distinct professions.’

Instead, they favoured the GMC as the future regulator because of its expertise in dealing with complex work and its members undertaking continuous training.

It comes as the DH stated in its consultation papers that it aims at reducing the number of its regulatory bodies.

The consultation paper said: ‘There are currently nine regulatory bodies. The four UK governments believe there is a case for exploring a reduction in the number of regulatory bodies, possibly to three or four.

‘A reduction in the number of regulators would deliver a more consistent approach to regulation as well as delivering savings in the cost of regulation.’

The MPS has instead called on the DH to improve the GMC’s Fitness to Practice function, which they found has not improved because it is held back by an outdated legislative framework. They brought forward the example of the Medical Act that does not allow the GMC to independently decide not to investigate in cases that do not require action, meaning that sometimes, doctors have to deal with a void investigation process.  

Chief executive of the GMC Charlie Massey said: ‘The current legislation forces us to pursue investigations that would be better dealt with in other ways.

‘At the moment, around 75% of our investigations close with no further action. This causes needless distress for both doctors and patients. It is also a waste of resources; we would like to put these to better use by supporting good practice and professionalism and preventing harm.’

The GMC also asked the DH to reform the legislative framework, saying that around 850 doctors a year, who qualified not following the traditional paths and are keen to start working as GPs or consultants cannot do so because they have to submit thousands of pages of evidence before they can join the GMC specialist register.

Mr Massey said: ‘Our ambition to innovate and act at pace is hampered by current legislation, which is far too prescriptive.