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14-06-2010 | Article

Tougher checks on out-of-hours GPs urged


UK Parliament Health Committee website

MPs have called for closer scrutiny of Primary Care Trusts to make sure they check credentials of overseas doctors seeking employment with out-of-hours service providers.

The Commons health select committee also calls for urgent legal changes to enable the General Medical Council (GMC) to properly assess the clinical competence and systematically test language skills of doctors from the European Economic Area who wish to register in the UK.

The proposals came out of the committee’s inquiry into failings that led to the unlawful killing of a patient by German out-of-hours locum Dr Daniel Ubani.

The inquiry heard evidence from a range of primary care representatives, including the Department of Health’s director of primary care, Dr David Colin-Thomé and chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners Professor Steve Field.

The report says Strategic Health Authorities and the Care Quality Commission must ensure PCTs meet their legal responsibility to perform assessments of language and fitness to practice. It also demands closer scrutiny of PCTs’ management of commercial providers and better standards of recruitment, induction and training for out-of-hours doctors.

Committee chair Keith Barron MP said: “It is tragic that it takes the death of a patient to expose the serious failings now evident in the current system for checking language and competence skills of overseas doctors.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the BMA's General Practitioners Committee commented: “All primary care organisations must take their legal obligations seriously to ensure that all GPs that treat patients in the UK are able to communicate effectively in English.

“The next government must also look at ways of empowering the General Medical Council so it can effectively regulate all doctors working in the UK including those from the European Economic Area.”

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