General Medical Council laws highlight induction dangers for health workers

The General Medical Council is stepping up its efforts to ensure that doctors entering the UK health service – notably those from overseas – are being given the correct support by their relative institutions. This, it says, is to ensure that professionals do not fall foul of General Medical Council laws and find themselves the subject of an investigation in the coming weeks, months and years.

Many doctors have faced the possibility of having sanctions imposed on them by the General Medical Council (GMC) and other regulators across the UK, forcing them to seek GMC legal advice to fight their corner. This latest move by the GMC only makes this possibility even greater, as it rolls out its program to give doctors an early understanding of the ethical and professional standards they are expected to meet, as well as how medicine is practised across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It noted that there are already a number of solid local schemes to support doctors who are new to practice and the country in general, though it asserted that there is still mounting evidence of new doctors working in clinical practice with little or no preparation for UK regulation. Locum doctors were also identified as targets for the regulations, given that many are put into positions where they are taking on duties they have not been appropriately trained for.

As such, the GMC has stated its intentions to work with doctors’ employers and professional organisations to develop basic induction packages for all doctors. Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the GMC, said that challenges are clear despite excellent being across the board, and expected there to be a crackdown for early-stage professionals – something that could lead to a number of applications for legal advice to dispute future issues that may arise.

“Developing an induction programme for all doctors new to our register will give them the support they need to practise safely and to conform to UK standards,” Mr Dickson said. “This will provide greater assurance to patients that the doctor treating them is ready to start work on day one. We hope this report will contribute to a better understanding of the challenges the profession faces as well as challenging us and those we work with to redouble our efforts to improve standards and protect patients.”

The news follows the GMC’s announcement in late September that it has launched a major recruitment campaign to find the chair for its new tribunal service, which will manage all fitness to practise hearings for doctors. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) will form a key part of the GMC’s legal outlook, developing a modern and efficient adjudication service that both doctors and patients can trust. It will be separate from the rest of the GMC to create a clear distinction between bringing proceedings against doctors and running hearings.

The new chair is expected to be announced before the start of 2012, when the new service will become operational. Indeed, it may see the legal fortunes of doctors evolving in the coming weeks.