Healthcare: At a glance - GMC reviews practice guidelines

Guidelines on what?

The General Medical Council (GMC) - the governing body for doctors - has commissioned the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) to look at the guidelines on good medical practice in specific areas.

Doesn't it do that at the moment?

At present the GMC has one set of guidelines that cover all doctors, whatever their field. The purpose of this initiative is to see that these recommendations marry up with 'clear, demonstrable and broadly consistent standards' at individual colleges, such as the Royal College of Physicians, for example.

Will this have an impact on PROs?

There may be opportunities to tailor campaigns in a way that could feed into revised notions of the best way of handling different practice areas. The GMC guidelines cover seven areas, including probity, training, relationships with patients and clinical care. Changes to any of these could have repercussions for the way doctors are approached, for example.

Why now?

This is all part of the 'revalidation' process in which the GMC is aiming to reassure the public that all licensed doctors are fit to practice.

The GMC is essentially asking what criteria the colleges are using to determine good practice and will feed the results of the AMRC's survey back to identify and iron out inconsistencies.

Sounds a bit 'one-size-fits-all'

The GMC insists it is aware that getting all doctors to, say, present patients with questionnaires about their treatment will be inappropriate in some areas.

Is everyone happy with the GMC?

There has been criticism of the organisation following the inquiry into serial murderer Harold Shipman's medical activities. The chief medical officer for England, Sir Liam Donaldson, is currently looking at the GMC's arrangements for examining a doctor's fitness to practice, within the revalidation process.

- Further information www.gmc-uk.org/revalidation.

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