The King's Fund welcomes Shipman report but says better patient protection requires partnership between the GMC and the NHS

The King's Fund welcomes Dame Janet Smith's recommendations in the final report of the Shipman Inquiry. Her conclusions are a forceful and authoritative call for action to ensure effective systems are in place to protect patients.

Niall Dickson, The King's Fund Chief Executive, said: 'It is right that the report reminds the GMC of the primary importance of protecting patients, and urges it to be more radical in the way that it monitors doctors. We also welcome that the GMC has been given a realistic timetable to put its house in order.

'A few years ago the GMC had a far reaching proposal for an effective MOT for all doctors - they retreated from that, and Dame Janet is right to criticise this. However, implementing a more active test of a doctor's fitness to practise, and ensuring more vigilant oversight, is not the sole responsibility of the GMC, but should be shared with their employers.

'We need to find monitoring systems for doctors that are rigorous and protect patients, but at the same time recognise that most doctors are doing a good job.'

Steve Dewar, The King's Fund Director of Development, welcomes the recommendation to transfer responsibility for judging misconduct cases to an independent organisation.

'Indeed, such an organisation could operate across all health care professions. However, we believe it's important that the profession itself, through the GMC, should maintain responsibility for setting professional standards in partnership with the wider public.'

Notes to editors: 

1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585.

2. The King's Fund recently published the report On Being a Doctor: Redefining medical professionalism for better patient care. It brings together all the key players to discuss how doctors need to respond to changing expectations and what they require in return.

3. The King's Fund is holding a breakfast discussion on 14 December, 2004 to examine the issues raised in the report. Speakers include Professor Carol Black, President of the Royal College of Physicians, Dame Deirdre Hutton, Chair of the National Consumer Council, and Health Minister John Hutton. To attend, please contact the Media and PR office on tel: 020 7307 2585.

4. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through grants. We are a major resource to people working in health, offering leadership and education courses; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.