Medicine: Crackdown on dangerous doctors

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The Independent Online
Alan Milburn, the health minister, yesterday launched a crackdown on temporary doctors who put patients at risk.

A new code of practice covering the employment of locum doctors in hospitals has been published to weed out those who are a danger to patients. The move follows long-term concern about the quality of care provided by some locums. Within the past two years, there have been a number of incidents involving locum doctors, including a serious sexual assault by an orthopaedic surgeon on a child patient. Mr Milburn said: "The existing rules governing the employment of locum doctors are inadequate. In future all locum doctors will be screened." Locum agencies should require doctors registering with them to undergo a formal health assessment and provide a statement of any criminal convictions and a criminal records clearance form. Mr Milburn said the Department of Health has also issued new guidelines on the system of alert letters which warn hospitals about doctors and dentists whose performance has caused serious concern.