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Outdated and inflexible legislation stops us supporting doctors and protecting patients

Less prescriptive legislation is vital if we are to adapt to changing demands.

Our efforts to innovate, protect patient safety and support the education and training of doctors will be hamstrung without urgent reforms. We've urged the government to proceed with legislative change following the government consultation on regulatory reform.

Read our response to the consultation, which outlines the case for regulatory reform.

Without legislative reform, we can't streamline our processes to deliver a model of regulation that is as flexible and adaptable to the needs of the modern medical workforce as it should be.

What’s wrong with existing legislation?

We're forced to work under an historic patchwork of highly prescriptive legislation, which results in systems that are slow, bureaucratic and burdensome. This is bad for patients and for doctors.

For example, 850 doctors a year, who have not followed traditional training paths but who are qualified and willing to work as GPs or consultants in the NHS, are forced by outdated legislative requirements to submit over 1,000 pages of evidence to us to get on to our specialist register.

This can take many months to complete, directly affecting the speed with which they can be brought into the NHS to provide high-quality care to patients.

Reforms needed to drive improvements

Along with patients, the medical profession, other regulators and the political parties across the UK, we've called for a new, high-level legislative framework that delivers autonomy and flexibility.

This is so we can better protect patients, support doctors, improve medical education and deliver for the wider health system across the UK.

We are prepared to be held more accountable to parliament for any new powers we're given. We also believe that regulators should be willing to report to and appear regularly at the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Irish Assembly to account for the work we're doing.

Hampered by current legislation

Our Chief Executive, Charlie Massey, said: ‘Successive governments have repeatedly promised to reform the GMC’s legislative framework and repeatedly failed to deliver. The need for reform is growing more acute with each year that passes. It is crucial the government now takes the opportunity to commit to reform as it considers responses to its consultation.

‘Our ambition to innovate and act at pace is hampered by current legislation, which is far too prescriptive. Too often we know how we would like regulate but we are unable to make changes because of the cumbersome process necessary to deliver them.

‘For example, the current legislation forces us to pursue investigations that would be better dealt with in other ways. At the moment around 75% of our investigations close with no further action. This causes needless distress for both doctors and patients. It is also a waste of resources; we would like to put these to better use by supporting good practice and professionalism and preventing harm.’