E-Regulator: Press round-up - September 2012

11 September 2012

General Medical Council

On 3 September 2012, the GMC’s new guidance, Protecting children and young people; the responsibilities of all doctors, comes into effect. All doctors were sent a copy of the guidance in July 2012, which advises on sharing information for child protection purposes. Doctors are regularly faced with emotionally challenging and complicated decisions and can be left having to act against the wishes of parents. The new guidance is aimed at paediatricians, GPs and those directly treating children. Its purpose is to alert doctors to the risks that children face, whether the child is a patient of theirs or not. It encourages them to take appropriate action and includes case studies and a decision-making flow chart to assist doctors to apply the new guidance. Copies of the guidance, case studies and other learning materials are available on the GMC website: http://www.gmc-uk.org/publications/13683.asp

The GMC has also published guidance to help responsible officers make revalidation recommendations about doctors, working with responsible officers from across the UK to ensure it supports them in their role. Revalidation is expected to begin towards the end of 2012, subject to approval from the Secretary of State for Health, with it coming into effect for licensed doctors from April 2013 onwards. Responsible officers will be able to make three types of recommendation when a doctor's revalidation is due:

  • a positive recommendation that a doctor should be revalidated
  • a request for a doctor's revalidation date to be deferred (e.g. to allow more time to collect supporting information)
  • a notification of ‘non-engagement’.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC, says of revalidation and the guidance:

Publication of this guidance and the recent ORSA report of readiness in England are significant milestones, reflecting the considerable progress that has been made in preparation for the introduction of revalidation. Over time, revalidation will not only provide greater assurance to patients about the competence of their doctors, it has the potential to enhance patient safety and improve the quality of medical care in the UK.

General Dental Council

The GDC met for their Council meeting on 2nd August. Matters discussed included the new strategic plan, direct access, the initial work on the budget for 2013 and feedback from the committees. The new strategic plan will be finalised in September and it is intended that it will formally outline a more focused way of working with clear prioritisation of their work. A significant feature will be increased engagement with stakeholders and the public as they continue to make improvements in all areas.


The General Optical Council has launched a recruitment drive for new members of its “education visit panel”. The regulator is seeking to recruit optometrists, dispensing opticians, ophthalmologists and lay people with a background in higher or further education. The role will involve assisting the GOC in quality assurance and approval of qualifications leading to GOC registration.

The Head of Education and Standards at GOC has said:

The work of our visit panels is vital to our public protection remit. The panels ensure that education institutions are giving their students the best possible preparation for their careers.

All optometry and dispensing optics students must be trained to the high standards we set and our visit panels are essential in making sure that happens.

Changes to the General Optical Council's Continuing Education and Training scheme from next year will be presented to eye care professionals at the National Optical Conference which is being held at Hilton Metropole, Birmingham on 18 and 19 October. Linda Ford, head of Education and Standards at the GOC, has been confirmed as a speaker at the event.


Mark Addison, former Downing Street aide, has been appointed as Chair of the NMC. Mark Addison will join the NMC in autumn this year, drawing on his experiences as a non-executive director at the National Archives. He has also held several senior positions in the civil service with an operational focus, as well as his roles at Downing Street and in the Cabinet Office.

The NMC and GMC have released a joint statement on professional values. The statement recognises that whilst the majority of healthcare workers deliver safe high quality care for patients, there have been recent examples of neglect, particularly amongst the elderly and those with learning disabilities. Although these total a small minority of incidences the statement recognises that they demonstrate a need for a continual commitment to patient safety from all health professionals and a willingness to challenge those responsible for poor practice. The GMC and NMC seek to remind registrants of their professional obligations in this area and the requirement to demonstrate compassion and kindness alongside their clinical skills.

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