Everyone is entitled to a good doctor, says former GMC president

May 26, 2005

Everyone is entitled to a good doctor and the public will no longer tolerate substandard practice, says Donald Irvine, former president of the General Medical Council in this week's BMJ.

He calls on the GMC to rise to the challenge of revalidation - checking that a doctor is fit to practise - and offers a six point plan to help secure good doctoring for all.

Firstly, we must agree that all patients are entitled to be treated only by good doctors, he writes. This is vital to patients and should be equally important to good doctors, whose collective reputation is inevitably damaged by poorly performing colleagues.

Secondly, we must make patient centred professionalism a priority. The profession and the GMC have much to gain from seeing the principles of accountability (transparency, external scrutiny, and the duty to explain) as precious assets rather than a threat.

Other actions include closing the standards gap and ensuring that revalidation is based on assessment of performance. The GMC also needs to be accountable to the public through parliament.

Done well, revalidation will both protect patients and support doctors, he says. However, it must be based on sound evaluation of a doctor's practice in order to command public trust and make revalidation feel fair and worthwhile for doctors.


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