Headlines: May 21st, 2002

The revamp of the General Medical Council includes proposals for every
doctor to have to gain a licence to practice.

That licence would be renewable every five years provided a doctor could
prove their working practices were up to date and of a high standard.

In the post-Shipman drive to ensure rogue practitioners are not in a
position to harm patients it will be a criminal offence to pretend to
have a licence.

The GMC modernisation proposal follows unease from both doctors and
others with an interest in health that the body is too slow and
sometimes too interested in protecting doctors, whatever their failure.

Other proposed changes include increasing from 25 to 40% the number of
lay members of the GMC. The council will also be made smaller and more

The proposals also include more streamlined disciplinary arrangements
with non-GMC members sitting on disciplinary panels.

The British Medical Association has been part of consultation on the
plans. It says it supports the regular scrutiny and renewal of a
doctor’s licence. It wants to ensure that the new system is rigorous
but does not duplicate other checks on doctors’ performance or take too
much time away from patient care.

Reform of the General Medical Council, A paper for consultation is
available at www.doh.gov.uk/gmcreform.pdf