Doctors in spotlight under new rapid-response body

HR professionals in the NHS have welcomed plans for a new national body to provide a fast-track response to concerns about doctors’ performance.

The National Clinical Assessment Authority (NCAA) will begin working from April this year and will provide a central point of contact for the NHS when concerns about doctors’ performances arise. It will also provide extra training and support where necessary.

It will make recommendations to NHS hospitals and health authorities so they can take appropriate action to check poor performance, ensure doctors are practising safely and discipline or suspend doctors where there are concerns.

Sally Storey, president of the Association of Healthcare Human Resource Managers, welcomed the new authority.

She said, “Our current system for tackling such problems is both cumbersome and fails to support the practitioner. We will be looking for the authority to deal with these issues much earlier.

“The whole issue of tackling problems is about resolving them, not about simply getting rid of people.

“We want to see early intervention in partnership with the individual to resolve matters for the benefit of both patients and practitioners.”

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the BMA Council, backed the new body and admitted that prompt action to pick up performance problems and provide retraining was the responsibility of the NHS.

He said, “The General Medical Council has come under fire from both the public and doctors for being too slow in dealing with cases but in fairness many of the problems landing at their door could and should have been dealt with by the NHS as an employer.”

The NCAA was set up following the publication of the chief medical officer’s report Supporting Doctors, Protecting Patients.

It recommended a national system for speeding up and clarifying the process of assessing doctors’ performances where concerns were raised.

By Ben Willmott

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