Published: 16/12/2004, Volume II4, No. 5936 Page 7

The role of primary care trusts in protecting patients from aberrant doctors should be enhanced, according to the final report of the Shipman inquiry.

Inquiry chair Dame Janet Smith recommended improving the guidance given to PCTs about improving the information they collect about the doctors on, or seeking, admission to their lists.

She said the Family Health Services Appeal Authority or its proposed successor, the NHS Litigation Authority, should collect and analyse information relating to the use made by PCTs of their list management powers.

'Such analysis would assist the Department of Health in providing guidance to PCTs about the types of circumstance in which they might properly use their powers, ' she wrote.

She said it was unclear whether the new general medical services contract would give PCTs greater opportunities for monitoring and regulating the quality of primary care. But she warned of the dangers of imposing an 'immense burden' on PCTs and that the success of the new measures would be 'variable'.

The improved role for PCTs would sit alongside Dame Janet's major recommendation to introduce a central database of information about every UK doctor, including criminal convictions or suspensions.

The report was a stinging attack on the culture of self-interest in the General Medical Council. It said it should be given a final chance to put its house in order and act more in the interests of patients than doctors.

The GMC should relinquish its responsibility for the final stages of its disciplinary proceedings, Dame Janet said.

www. the-shipman-enquiry. org. uk -www. gmc-uk. org