Doctors face annual check-ups in bid to raise standards

Doctors will face annual appraisals and have to renew their licences every five years under government plans to toughen up medical regulation.

Proposals by chief medical officer Liam Donaldson will require GPs and other doctors to renew their professional registration every five years. The aim is to show they are practising to the expected standards and patients are safe.

Calls for changes to the way doctors are regulated gathered pace after the Harold Shipman murders. The GP killed more than 200 people after escaping detection over a number of years.

The new system will be piloted over the next 18 months.

Donaldson said: “I’m confident that this process, agreed with doctors’ representatives, will help raise standards of medical practice and improve the quality of the patient experience.”

Patients will be asked for views on their doctor, including:

  • Effective communication, including listening, informing and explaining
  • Involving patients in treatment decisions
  • Care co-ordination and support for self-care
  • Showing respect for patients and treating them with dignity.

The British Medical Association (BMA) gave a cautious welcome to the plans.

Chairman Hamish Meldrum, said: “The BMA is supportive of plans to appraise doctors in order to develop and improve their skills. However, it is essential that the proposals are not unduly burdensome for doctors and result in them having to spend less time with patients. It is vital that the new system is good for patients and fair to doctors.”

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