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Doctors Protest against Regulation Changes

The British Medical Association has protested against plans to lower the level of proof needed for a medic to be struck off proposed by England's Chief Medical Officer Professor// Sir Liam Donaldson.

Following the inquiry into GP killer Harold Shipman the CMO said that the GMC was weighted in favor of doctors and therefore proposed his plans to change how doctors are regulated.

These proposals include regular MoT-style checks on medics' abilities. The plans have been postponed for the end of November for further consultation.

The BMA said it "opposes outright" the proposal to lessen the burden of proof required in fitness to practice cases from criminal standards - beyond all reasonable doubt - to civil standards - on the balance of probability.

Mr James Johnson, BMA chairman, said: "It cannot be right, when a person's entire means of earning a living is at stake, to rely upon a balance of probabilities rather than proof beyond reasonable doubt."

The BMA has also rejected the idea of setting up an independent tribunal to judge serious complaints made against doctors.

In its response to the CMO, it said, "Any transfer of adjudication from the GMC could only be properly considered once the credentials, funding and accountability of any new body were established."

Although the GMC still has to publish its official response to the CMO's plans it said it was in favor of the MoT checks when the document was published in July, but would have to "carefully consider" the other points.

They have also criticized a proposal to remove responsibility for undergraduate medical education from the GMC to a new body called the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board.

It also said that it "does not see any point" in a proposal requiring UK doctors and graduates of British universities to sit a language exam.

In its response to Sir Liam's document, the BMA says: "Throughou t the report we found ourselves more often in sympathy with the identification of a problem, recognising the issues that needed to be addressed, rather than with the proposals suggested to deal with them."

When he launched his document, Sir Liam said: "Patients put their trust in doctors often at a major moment in their lives.

"They are right to do so, but my review has shown that the public and doctors think that this trust must be underpinned by a strong system to assure good practice and safe care."

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