Doctors will face annual assessments of competence

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Doctors will face annual assessments so that licences can be removed from poor performers, under proposals drawn up by the Chief Medical Officer.

GPs, hospital consultants and private practitioners will also have to renew their licences every five years, under Sir Liam Donaldson's plans. 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 which may affect their work, like a problem with drugs of alcohol.

The plans gained momentum because of the case of Harold Shipman, the GP who murdered at least 215 victims.

The report is expected to say that regular assessment would raise standards among doctors rather than being a way to discipline those who cause concern.

The General Medical Council has been discussing the revalidation of doctors for almost a decade and has considered the Shipman case. It was part of the working group which created the report.

At its annual staff and associate specialist conference last month, it said legislation is expected early next year to allow it to introduce licensing later in 2009.