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Tougher punishments for negligent GPs

The General Medical Council (GMC) is considering the introduction of stricter sanctions in instances of GP error. This could include forcing a negligent doctor to formally apologise to an affected patient, and restricting the practice of GPs who have retrained as a result of making mistakes.

Praise and opposition for new measures

The GMC is the UK’s medical regulatory body – all doctors who wish to practise medicine in the UK must register with the GMC. The GMC currently has extensive regulatory powers (such as suspending or removing negligent doctors). However, the new proposals will mean increased controls.

These improved controls are aimed at taking more stringent action in the small number of cases that are of public concern. For example, penalties could be introduced where a doctor does not act on a suspicion that a colleague is under-performing.

Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive, commented:

“Doctors are among the most trusted professionals,
and rightly so. In the vast majority of cases
one-off clinical errors do not
merit action by the GMC.

“But if we are to maintain that trust, in the small number
of serious cases where doctors fail to listen
to concerns they should be held to
account for their actions.”

Dr Clare Gerada, an NHS medical director, has expressed the opinion that such sanctions could be damaging to the profession, stating that in some cases the measures could:

“traumatise and put in additional fear for
the vast majority of doctors who go in
every day to do a good job.”

Dr Gerada added:

“Of course it’s important that we take into account
the patient and we look at the damage that’s
been done to the patient, but it’s also
important that whatever sanction
is a proportionate sanction,
is a fair sanction.”

Health Secretary Jeromy Hunt has backed the proposals, stating that he is in favour of improving patient safety in the wake of the Mid Staffs scandal. The consultation ends on 14th November – following a review, the results will be published in 2015.

Professional legal guidance from Hampson Hughes Solicitors

If you believe that you have experienced GP negligence, you could be entitled to medical negligence compensation.

For further information on medical negligence, and to discover how we could help you to secure personal injury compensation, call our expert Medical Negligence Team on 0151 242 1025 or email

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