The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership

DHSC curbs GMC’s powers

A raft of new patient safety measures have been announced, perhaps most dramatically the rolling back of the General Medical Council’s power to appeal tribunal decisions on doctors’ fitness to practice.

The move is part of the fall out of the Hadiza Bawa-Garba case, which saw a paediatrician struck off by the High Court in January after the GMC referred a tribunal decision to it.

There was an outcry from professional groups and others that the ruling failed to reflect the systemic pressures that led to the death of a six year old boy, and that the trainee doctor’s reflective practice notes were used against her.

When the GMC was given this power in 2015, the then chief executive Niall Dickson said the change was “essential”.

The Williams review which recommended the changes, accepted yesterday by Jeremy Hunt, accepted that the GMC’s use of the power was “not excessive”, but made its recommendation in part on the fact that the right of appeal “has undermined doctors’ trust in the GMC”.

But perhaps more consequential in the medium term are Mr Hunt’s expected announcements on an independent medical examiner service and a programme that will give senior medics benchmarked personal performance and outcomes data.

The latter in particular looks sure to see significant arguments about the accuracy of the measures.

The programme will be overseen by the Getting It Right First Time team, which is already running a £60m, four year programme looking to drive quality improvement and savings across most of the medical specialties.

Individual benchmarking will start with consultants working in general surgery, paediatric surgery and urology.

Health and care honours

Sue Hill, chief scientific officer at NHS England and previously in the Department of Health and Social Care, was made a dame, with particular reference to her work in recent years on genomic medicine.

Outgoing King’s Fund chief executive Chris Ham received a knighthood for services to health policy and management. David Haslam, currently chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, also got a Kt, for services to NHS leadership.

CBEs in the centre included Yvonne Coghill, NHS England’s director of workforce race equality standard implementation, who has championed diversity in NHS leadership; and Rob Shaw, NHS Digital deputy chief executive.

Jon Rouse, Greater Manchester health and care chief officer (technically also an NHS England employee) also got a CBE, as did Imperial College Healthcare Trust chief nurse Janice Sigsworth.

In these latest Queen’s honour as in other spheres of NHS leadership, east London seemed to do quite well, with Marie Gabriel, another local leader as East London Foundation Trust chair, bagging a CBE. Those awarded OBEs included Kathryn Halford – currently chief nurse at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust – and Ian Basnett, director of public health for Barts Health Trust.

Among others getting OBEs were NHS England’s director of patient experience Neil Churchill, for services to the voluntary sector and carers; Bob Klaber, consultant paediatrician at Imperial College Healthcare Trust and a quality improvement champion; NHS equality campaigner Roger Kline (also formerly of NHS England); and Kathy McLean, NHS Improvement’s medical director and chief operating officer, for services to leadership in the NHS.

Many jobbing health and care staff were recognised; as was a relative newcomer to NHS leadership: Nishma Manek, a GP trainee and founder of the “Next Generation GP” programme which promotes the good things about future general practice, received a Medal of the Order of the British Empire (BEM).