New Checks To Protect Patient Safety

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Plans to improve patient safety and support professionals in sustaining their high standards, were set out by the Chief Medical Officer for England (CMO) Sir Liam Donaldson.

In proposals, outlined in the report "Medical Revalidation - Principles and Next Steps", doctors will, be required to renew their professional registration every five years, in order to provide assurance that they are practising to the standard that patients, the public and the profession itself expect. It will also play a part in putting quality at the heart of NHS care - a key element of the proposals outlined in Lord Darzi's report "High Quality Care for All".

Patients will play an important role in this process. They will be asked for views on their doctor, including :

* Effective communication, including listening, informing and explaining;

* Involving patients in treatment decisions;

* Care co-ordination and support for self-care; and

* Showing respect for patients and treating them with dignity.

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Speaking on publication of the report, CMO Sir Liam Donaldson said:

"I'm confident that this process, agreed with doctors' representatives will help raise standards of medical practice and improve the quality of the patient experience. The involvement of patients and public in the process will help define what counts as good healthcare and in the rare cases where doctors are falling short, provide them, where possible, with the support needed to renew their registration.

The General Medical Council will be establishing a programme board to support the development of revalidation processes as well as to consider the practical issues around implementation. The GMC, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and UK Health Departments have all committed to working together with patients, the profession, and employers.

Underlining the support which doctors themselves have given the proposals, President of the GMC, Sir Graeme Catto said:

"The introduction of revalidation represents the biggest change to medical regulation in one hundred and fifty years. The GMC welcomes the opportunity to work with partners in healthcare organisations across the United Kingdom to develop a supportive process focussed on raising standards that will deliver benefits to both patients and professionals."

Members of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges will have a central role in setting standards for recertification and designing the methods by which doctors will be evaluated against those standards. Its president Dame Carol Black said:

"I warmly welcome this opportunity to help shape the development of revalidation. The Academy and the Royal Colleges have an important role to play in the development process. We will be working with the GMC and others to establish standards for specialist practice that doctors will have to achieve to obtain specialist recertification."

The revalidation and recertification process will be introduced in stages from the spring following a series of pilots scheduled to begin at the start of the year.

These arrangements will be supported by the introduction of Responsible Officers, senior doctors in each healthcare organisation who will take responsibility for collating the information needed to support a recommendation on revalidation. Alongside the release of the CMO's report we are also today issuing a consultation paper with more detailed proposals on how Responsible Officers will operate.

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