Dual regulation for medical professionals is risky and unfair says MDU

Speaking at an event today, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) said the expected arrival of a dual system of regulation at the GMC next year could introduce confusion to an already outdated system of healthcare professional regulation.

While speaking at the Westminster Health Forum event today on Next steps for professional healthcare regulation in the UK, Thomas Reynolds, the MDU’s head of policy and strategic communications said that when the GMC begins to regulate medical associate professionals in 2024, these professionals will benefit from a swifter and more proportionate  fitness to practise process than their doctor colleagues.

Thomas explained: “The GMC will soon be operating a dual system of regulation. One where physician associates and anaesthesia associates are dealt with via a regulatory process that is far more preferable than the outdated one for doctors. While we strongly support the regulation of medical associate professionals, this situation is profoundly unfair. Doctors have waited a long time to see their regulator reformed; the prospect of that reform being delayed still further, while simultaneously modernising the process for this new group of registrants is not only unfair, but it will cause problems and confusion. It is inevitable.

“In its GMC Performance Review for 2021/22 the Professional Standards Authority reported that the median time to make fitness to practise decisions – from receipt to final hearing was two and a half years. We urgently need legislative reform of the GMC to get this process improved. It should never be the case that the process itself is the punishment. Sadly, given the impact a GMC investigation can have on doctors – too often that is precisely what it is.

“Doctors have waited long enough. We are calling on the government to bring forward the promised legislation without any more delay. If the government wants to show it is delivering for doctors before the next election, reforming the GMC would be a great place to start.”

The MDU has previously coordinated a letter with other medical leaders to the Secretary of State for Health, calling on the government not to delay fundamental reforms needed to modernise the GMC’s processes.