The GMC has responded to senior medical leaders’ frustration at news that the Government is again delaying long-promised plans for its reform which would ease the strain felt by doctors.
Its chief executive said its Council shared widespread disappointment at the hold-up in changing the legislation – which was expected this year, but will not now happen until 2024-25.
Charlie Massey told Independent Practitioner Today: ‘Physician associates and anaesthesia associates are an important part of the health workforce and we welcome progress to bring them into regulation, which we will do within 12 months of legislation being laid by Government.
‘But we are disappointed that the outdated legislation for doctors will not be replaced at the same time.
‘The current framework stops us from being responsive and flexible in how we address patient safety concerns and register doctors to join the UK workforce. That isn’t good for patients and puts unnecessary strain on doctors.
‘The Government has said that it expects to deliver reforms for doctors as a priority following its work on physician associates and anaesthesia associates.’
Mr Massey called for a clearer commitment on the specific timing of that work, adding that the GMC wanted to progress better regulation for both doctors and medical associate professionals (MAPs) as soon as the Department of Health and Social Care laid the necessary legislation.
‘It is now the department’s decision when and how to implement these changes. When the department does implement these changes, we will be ready to start the process to put the reform changes into practice,’ he said.
Doctors’ leaders at the BMA, some royal colleges and The Medical Defence Union last week wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, urging the Government to reconsider the timetable for reform.
They warned that doctors would see a failure to reform their regulator this year as a broken promise.
BMA Council chairman Prof Philip Banfield said: ‘The proposed reforms would have reduced the adversarial and combative nature of the fitness-to-practise process that is so stressful and damaging to doctors, with no additional benefit to patient safety.’