The General Medical Council, the body which regulates doctors in
the UK, has hired Westminster Strategy to lobby on its behalf during the
passage of the Fitness to Practice Bill through Parliament.
Coming in the wake of the conviction of serial killer GP Harold Shipman,
the bill will give the GMC new powers to suspend GPs while complaints
are being investigated and gives the GMC the right to increase the
amount of time doctors are suspended from the register if found guilty
of substandard practice. The bill is in addition to the Government’s
Health Act, initially proposed in its 1997 manifesto.
WS will report to Andrew Ketteringham, who was appointed director of
communications at the GMC earlier this year (PR Week, 18 February).
Ketteringham said it was important to strike a balance between showing
the body was actively reforming the way GPs are regulated after the
Shipman case, while ensuring people understood it was not just a
Ketteringham added it would be vital for WS to gather support and
understanding about the scope of the bill from both MPs and peers.
Although MPs on the health select committee and those with an interest
in health issues will be specifically targeted, the GMC is aiming to
communicate the health reform process more widely within Parliament.
Westminster Strategy director Jane Cooper will manage the account, which
will last for the three months up to the summer Parliamentary recess, by
which time the bill should have passed through Parliament.