HCSA raises the alarm on proposed changes to Good Medical Practice

HCSA has raised the alarm over changes proposed in the GMC’s Good Medical Practice reform consultation which will increase the opportunities of unfair referral.

In its submission, HCSA also outlined its opposition to moves to include associate practitioners in the guidance, thereby creating confusion that could endanger patient safety.

Highlighting the broadening of opportunities for referral contained in the proposal, the submission notes: “HCSA is appalled by the adversarial, discriminatory culture that is overseen by the GMC.

“It is within this context that we submit our opposition to all proposals that increase ambiguity, add additional duties or remove essential safeguards. An example is the removal of the current threshold stating ‘only serious or persistent failure to follow our guidance that poses a risk to patient safety or public trust in doctors will put your registration at risk.’

“We need only refer to the case of Dr Arora, suspended and investigated for a single incident involving a laptop, to understand the danger of removing this threshold.”

HCSA is concerned that, if implemented, the consultation will open up grey areas that may initially appear benign, but could subsequently be used maliciously, unfairly or discriminatorily.

“If the GMC pushes through proposed changes, it will undoubtedly lead to more doctors unfairly referred and put through the process of potentially losing their registration, including a disproportionate number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic doctors,” the submission warns.

“Too many doctors have spent years waiting for cases to be heard, and tragically, many have taken their own lives. It is in this context HCSA advocates for any changes to GMP to be made with precision and clarity.”

HCSA has also expressed its strong opposition to the inclusion of Physician and Anaesthesia Associates in Good Medical Practice and the widening of the term “medical professionals” to include these groups.

“We recognise the important role PAs and AAs provide in the workplace and the need for regulation to optimise the role. Yet PA/AA roles are not interchangeable with the role of doctor and nor should they be.

“In extending Good Medical Practice to cover PAs and AAs, the GMC would be crossing a red line. Lack of clarity in the workplace will endanger patients. It will also make it easier for employers to inappropriately substitute doctors for AAs/PAs to drive down costs.

“Therefore, there must be a separate code of practice for associate professionals with clarity on the limits of the role.”