Letter: Hospital deaths

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In William Evington's article "Lessons in rude health" (Review, 17 June) he says the General Medical Council's proposed system of revalidation of doctors will only tackle the issue of professional competence - communication skills or, as he puts it, "deportment" will be ignored. In actual fact the way in which a doctor communicates with his or her patient will indeed be a part of revalidation.

The Royal College of General Practitioners is piloting revalidation of GPs in the autumn. To be revalidated doctors will have to gather evidence to demonstrate they: keep their skills and knowledge up to date, audit and improve their clinical practice, maintain good consultation skills, and adhere to professional values.

Maintaining good consultation skills is all about patient/ doctor communication. Although the majority of GPs do a great job in difficult circumstances, our Achilles' heel has been the unacceptable variation in care that some patients receive. We are improving, but we all know we can do better.

It is easy for The Independent to invite readers to send in stories of "crass or insulting behaviour". I challenge you to ask readers to also write about good experiences with doctors.

No one denies the negative encounters but please do not ignore the many excellent ones.

Professor MIKE PRINGLE

Chairman

Royal College of General Practitioners

London SW7

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