Intended for healthcare professionals


New agency set up to identify incompetent doctors

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 13 January 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:67
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    A new agency to catch underperforming or incompetent doctors was unveiled by the UK government this week, in the wake of an official report that confirmed the British GP Harold Shipman, serving life for killing 15 patients, as one of the most prolific serial murderers in history.

    But the BMA pointed out that the proposed new National Clinical Assessment Authority would not necessarily detect a doctor like Shipman, and called for a series of measures to improve the monitoring of death rates among GPs' patients and drug prescribing.

    The authority, set up to provide “fast track” responses to concerns about doctors, is a reaction not only to the Shipman case but to a series of medical scandals that have rocked public confidence in doctors. These include the cases of the disgraced gynaecologists Rodney Ledward and Richard Neale—struck off the medical register only after years of gross malpractice—and the children's heart surgery saga in Bristol.

    The report on Shipman, published last week, suggests that he may have been responsible for the deaths …

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