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Encyclopedia > General Medical Council

The General Medical Council (the GMC) is the regulator of the medical profession in the United Kingdom. It licenses doctors to practice, and has the power to revoke the licence, or place restrictions, in cases of questions about a doctor's fitness to practice. This article is about the field of medical practice and health care. ...

Contents


Purpose

The purpose of the GMC is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the community by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine[1]. The council was formed in 1858. A practitioner not registered with the GMC is forbidden to hold themselves out as a registered medical practitioner in the UK. The GMC regulates medical schools in the UK, and liaises with other nations' medical and university regulatory bodies over medical schools overseas, leading to some qualifications being mutually recognised. The Council is funded by annual fees required from those wishing to remain registered and fees for examinations. 1858 (MDCCCLVIII) is a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Sunday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar). ... In the United Kingdom, medical school generally refers to a department within a university which is involved in the education of future medical practitioners. ...


Powers, activities and sanctions

A registered medical professional may be referred to the GMC if there are doubts about his or her fitness to practice. These are divided into concerns about health and other concerns about ability or behaviour. In the past these issues were dealt with separately and differently, but now pass through a single fitness to practice process[2].


The GMC and its members, with substantial agreement in principle from government and from the professional bodies in UK medicine (e.g. the BMA, the Royal Colleges), represent their regulatory activity as aimed with an overwhelming priority at assuring the safety of individual patients. As the regulatory body for a profession and because the perceived reliability of the profession is significant in assuring treatment is sought and followed, the GMC has from its establishment explicitly regarded maintaining public confidence in the profession. Hearings may result in reprimands, restrictions on practice temporary suspension or erasure from the register. The logo of the association. ...


The GMC also administers the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board test (PLAB), which has to be sat by non-European Union overseas doctors before they may practice medicine in the UK. The Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board test (PLAB) is the assessment procedure conducted by the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom that is required for overseas doctors outside the European Union before they can practice medicine in the UK. The PLAB test has 2 parts: Has EMQs (extended matching...


The main guidance that the GMC provides for doctors is called Good Medical Practice[3]. This sets out the standards and behaviours that are expected of them. Originally written in 1995, it is currently being revised, and is subject to a lengthy consultation process. 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Modes of licensing

Three types of GMC licence are extant: provisional, limited and full. Provisional registration is granted to those who have completed medical school; this may be converted into full registration upon satisfactory completion of the first year of postgraduate training ("house jobs"). Limited registration is granted to foreign graduates who have completed the PLAB examination but require a period of work in the UK before their registration can be converted to full. Limited registration is expected to be discontinued.


Reform

Since 2001, the GMC has itself become answerable to the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE, initially "Council for the Regulation of Healthcare Professionals"), which oversees GMC activity and may overturn previous verdicts. The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) is a UK health regulatory body set up under the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act of 2002. ...


Following recent legislation the GMC is implementing a comprehensive and wide-ranging reform of the organisation and its role. This is a result of considerable social change, but also highly publicised scandal cases such as the Shipman affair Harold Shipman Harold Frederick Shipman (14 January 1946 – 13 January 2004) was a British general practitioner who was the most prolific known serial killer in the history of Britain (and possibly the world). ...


One of the recent changes is the shift of emphasis from simple registration to revalidation of doctors, more similar to the periodic process common in American states, in which the professional is expected to prove his or her professional development and skills. The revalidation process was expected to start in 2004, although it is being delayed by the publication and implementation of the Shipman Inquiry Report. 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Criticism

Due to its nature the GMC is positioned between the medical profession and the public, and has drawn criticism from both sides - from professionals for being overly harsh in fitness to practice decisions and from the public for being too mild. Calls have been made to abolish self-regulation by the profession, but a 2000 vote by doctors was 80% in favour of continued self-regulation, although many demanded reforms[4], one of which became revalidation.


The GMC was most heavily criticised by Dame Janet Smith as part of her inquiry into the issues arising from the case of Harold Shipman. "Expediency," says Dame Janet, "replaced principle". Dame Janet maintained that the GMC failed to deal properly with Fitness to Practice (FTP) cases, particularly involving established and respected doctors.[5] The section of the Shipman enquiry devoted to background criticisms of the GMC (Criticism of the General Medical Council and the Movement for Reform) showed the existence of substantial concern about possible racial or other bias, and the effect of "overseas qualification" in FTP procedures. This was on the basis of statistical analysis of FTP complaints, discrepancy between case screeners, and possible selection bias in terms of which cases were deemed worthy of further enquiry. Dame Janet Smith was the judge who prepared a report on the activities of British mass murderer, Harold Shipman. ... Harold Shipman Harold Frederick Shipman (14 January 1946 – 13 January 2004) was a British general practitioner who was the most prolific known serial killer in the history of Britain (and possibly the world). ...


In response to the Shipman report, Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, published a report titled Good doctors, safer patients, which appeared in 2006.[6] Donaldson echoes concerns about GMC FTP procedures and other functions of the Council. In his view, complaints are dealt with in a haphazard manner, the council causes distress to doctors over trivial complaints while tolerating poor practice in other cases. It accuses the Council of being "secretive, tolerant of sub-standard practice and dominated by the professional interest, rather than that of the patient". Sir Liam Donaldson is the current Chief Medical Officer for England. ... The chief medical officer (CMO) is an official in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom who regularly advises their respective government on health related matters. ...


In September 2006 a former President of the General Medical Council, Sir Donald Irvine, called for the current Council to be disbanded and re-formed with new members.[7] These criticisms followed publication of the Chief Medical Officer's "Good doctors, safer patients" report. Criticisms included the uneven approach of the GMC towards fitness to practice (FTP) procedures and revalidation, where the practice of some doctors is "looked at more thoroughly than others".


Other Healthcare Regulatory Bodies

UK

All the above bodies, together with the GMC, are represented on the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence. The Health Professions Council (HPC) is a UK health regulator. ... The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) is the UKs regulatory body for the Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Professions. ... The General Optical Council (GOC) is an organisation in the United Kingdom that regulates opticians and optometrists. ... The General Dental Council, (GDC), is a UK organisation which regulates all dental professionals in the country. ... The Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) is the UKs regulatory body for the Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Professions. ... The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) is the regulatory and professional body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. ... The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland is the statutory and regulatory body for pharmacists in Northern Ireland. ... The Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) is a UK health regulatory body set up under the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act of 2002. ...


Elsewhere

Many other countries, including New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore, have a central regulator similar to the GMC. In the USA and Australia, each state has its own regulatory board for doctors. In Germany, each state has an Ärztekammer with public authority to regulate the medical profession. For the whole federal republic of germany there is no body of public authority. Nevertheless, the Bundesärztekammer, a voluntary association of private law, was founded to support the professions' interests.


References

  1. ^ General Medical Council
  2. ^ Transitional arrangements - FAQ on GMC website.
  3. ^ Good Medical Practice - GMC website.
  4. ^ Daily Telegraph: Celia Hall. "British Doctors pass historic Vote of No Confidence in the General Medical Council (GMC)" 30/06/2000
  5. ^ Shipman inquiry. Safeguarding patients: lessons from the past—proposals for the future. 5th report, 2004. Online version.
  6. ^ Donaldson, L. Good doctors, safer patients: Proposals to strengthen the system to assure and improve the performance of doctors and to protect the safety of patients; a report by the Chief Medical Officer. Department of Health, 2006-07-14. Accessed 2006-09-17.
  7. ^ The Royal Society of Medicine. Current GMC should be disbanded, says former President. Accessed 2006-09-16.

  Results from FactBites:
 
General Medical Council - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1057 words)
The General Medical Council (the GMC) is the regulator of the medical profession in the United Kingdom.
Due to its nature the GMC is positioned between the medical profession and the public, and has drawn criticism from both sides - from professionals for being overly harsh in fitness to practice decisions and from the public for being too mild.
The GMC was most heavily criticised by Dame Janet Smith as part of her inquiry into the issues arising from the case of Harold Shipman.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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