The Consumers' Association is celebrating a victory after a change in the law allowing the health ombudsman to investigate GPs who have retired from the NHS. The move follows a complaint from a reader of the association's Which? magazine, which highlighted a loophole in the law. An investigation into the reader's late wife's GP was dropped because the doctor retired. The Consumers' Association drafted a private members' bill to redress the situation which became law as the Health Services Commissioners (Amendment) Act 2000 last week. An association spokeswoman said: 'We are delighted that this bill has become law.

Unfortunately this act does not apply to private practice doctors; our next bill tackles this.' New regulations for the private sector, outlined in the Care Standards Act, do not come into force until 2002.