09/12/2004

Shipman Inquiry recommends changes to GMC

The fifth report of the Shipman Inquiry has as expected called for changes to ensure greater effectiveness of the General Medical Council (GMC).

Calling for reform beyond what was proposed by the GMC in an internal overhaul of its 'Fitness To Practice' (FTP) procedures the Shipman Inquiry, acknowledged that the GMC did not possess any information that could have led to the detection of GP's activities.

However, the head of the inquiry Dame Janet Smith suggested improvements to clinical governance systems, in particular "the need for the proper investigation of complaints and the need for a system of monitoring mortality statistics".

The report recommended ways in which the protective role of Primary Care Trusts could be enhanced and recommendations on the GMC's Fitness To Practice (FTP) procedures that would protect patients and be fair to doctors.

Responding to the publication of the Fifth Report, Health Secretary John Reid said: "I would like to reiterate our sympathy to the relatives and friends of Shipman’s victims and express our thanks to them for their valuable contribution to the Inquiry’s work. The scale of these crimes was unprecedented and his activities were totally abhorrent. We need to learn lessons from the mistakes of the past to help safeguard patients in the future.

"We have been working hard with the medical profession and others to strengthen the systems, rules and regulations that govern the medical profession. Standards of behaviour must be high and action against those who fail to maintain those standards must be timely, firm and fair.

"I would also like to express my profound thanks to Dame Janet Smith and her team for the care and attention that has gone into the preparation of each of her reports. We will consider in detail the recommendations made in the fifth report and respond properly next year."

Commenting today on the Inquiry's Fourth Report on regulation of controlled drugs, John Reid said there was a need to improve the current arrangements for the management of controlled drugs in a way that does not hinder patients from accessing the treatment they need.

Outlining the actions to be taken Dr Reid said: "Dame Janet has seen the Government's proposals and is pleased that we have accepted the principles underlying her report and that we intend to follow up her recommendations with rigorous action".

(SP)

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