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General Medical Council: Oversight Mechanisms

Volume 748: debated on Tuesday 23 April 2024

3. What assessment she has made of the adequacy of oversight mechanisms for the General Medical Council. (902429)

The General Medical Council has been constituted by Parliament to ensure that decisions about individual doctors are independent of both the profession and the Government of the day. The Professional Standards Authority oversees the work of all United Kingdom professional regulators and reports to Parliament on their operational performance. Parliament continues to set and oversee the principles and scope of the regulators’ powers.

Good governance means ensuring transparency, and one concern of my constituents is whether GMC decisions can be appealed. Will the Minister reassure me that we can have better transparency in the GMC on the decisions that it makes?

The GMC and other professional regulators have a statutory duty to investigate any concerns about the fitness to practice of one of their registrants and to take appropriate action to protect the public when that is needed. The regulators are overseen by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, which has the power to appeal cases where, in its view, a sanction imposed by a regulator is insufficient to protect the public.

The GMC has seven principles of decision making and consent. How will the Minister ensure that GPs can fulfil their obligations when time constraints on appointments mean that they do not have time to listen to every complaint? People have to book a double appointment to talk about more than one issue. What further support can the Government give GPs to enable them to fulfil their GMC-ordered standards of care?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Government have committed to delivering 50 million more GP appointments and to making it easier throughout the country to see a doctor. In England in December, we delivered 25.77 million GP appointments compared with 23.31 million in December 2019—an increase of 2.46 million appointments each month. We need to continue to work with programmes such as Pharmacy First, and we are taking other steps to reduce the pressure on GPs so that they have more time to spend with their patients.