On Tuesday 4 September 2012 the House of Commons Health Select Committee, of which Valerie is a member, heard evidence from the General Medical Council (GMC) at the annual accountability hearing.
The GMC is responsible for regulating doctors and ensuring that they meet the appropriate standards for practising medicine. Valerie asked the GMC about their processes and changes that have been made to the organisation over the past year:
The GMC report indicted that they had made efficiency savings: Valerie asked how and where the GMC had made efficiency savings, given that expenditure in 2011 was £6.4m below budget. The GMC said savings had been made by bringing legal and IT work in-house rather than using external practitioners, moving tribunals to a single location in Manchester, streamlining the handling of fitness-to-practice cases and changing travel and subsistence policies.
Valerie congratulated the GMC on the work that was done in setting up the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ( MPTS) and making in comply with Article 6 of the Hman Rights Act 1998. The GMC is responsible for receiving and investigating complaints about doctors. The MPTS is an independant tribunal panel chaired by HH Judge David Pearl where a doctor’s fitness-to-practice is adjudicated.
The GMC confirmed that the length of tenure of the 24 members of the Council was for four years and the Council will be cutting the number of members by 50% from 24 to 12 for the new tenure cycle. Of the 12 new council members, half will be medical professionals and half will be lay-people.
Valerie also raised the issue of the longstanding accountability of the GMC to the Privy Council. The GMC confirmed that they have put in evidence to the Law Commission that they would rather be answerable to Parliament than to the Privy Council. This would help to preserve the GMC’s independence and its ability to scrutinise the NHS.
For more information about the Health Select Committee’s meeting with the GMC, please click here.