Headlines: January 9th, 2001

The Government has appointed an NHS insider to act as chairman of the new ‘rapid response’ authority to handle concerns about doctors’ performance.The new National Clinical Assessment Authority (NCAA) comes both in the wake of scandals like the Shipman case and longer term concerns about the General Medical Council’s (GMC) tardiness in handling complaint about doctors.

The new body will also act as the central point of best practice on performance – providing guidance to NHS hospitals and health authorities so that their performance measures are up to scratch.

The Chairman of the NCAA will be Jane Wesson, Chairman of Harrogate Healthcare NHS Trust since 1993. An experienced solicitor, she was also chair of the Independent Tribunal Service, dealing with appeals against administrative decisions such as social security and child support assessments, from 1993 to 1999.

The Chief Officer and Medical Director of the NCAA is Dr Alistair Scotland, currently the Director of Medical Education and Research at London’s Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, and a senior lecturer at Imperial College School of Medicine, who has done a lot of work on performance with the GMC in the past.

The NCAA has been set up following recommendations made in the Chief Medical Officer’s report Supporting Doctors, Protecting Patients, published in February 2000. Senior doctors are behind the move to speed up the handling of complaints, which can blight both the reputation of an individual doctor and the profession the longer they drag on.

Link: www.doh.gov.uk/assuringquality