Short cuts

Published: 08/01/2004, Volume II4, No. 5886 Page 8

The Department of Health has published guidance to help deal with suspensions of doctors and dentists. It follows a National Audit Office report that estimated the cost of suspensions at£14m a year.The framework provides for: an immediate exclusion from work of no more than two weeks; further exclusion limited to four week periods which must be subject to active review; improved case management; 'quick but thorough investigation'; the appointment of a board member to oversee exclusion and subsequent action; and a programme for return to work when the doctor or dentist is not subject to disciplinary or capability proceedings.Health minister John Hutton said: 'The current simply not acceptable as it is not fair to doctors, taxpayers and most importantly patients.However, the recent NAO report demonstrated all too clearly the cost of failing to manage this process effectively.'

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