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NHS News in brief

Our weekly round-up of NHS and healthcare stories

PCT restricts OTC prescribing
A primary care trust (PCT) is to issue a 'restricted list' of medicines that GPs are not allowed to prescribe in a bid to encourage patients to procure them for themselves. Suffolk West PCT said the cost-cutting exercise was targeting painkillers and some health supplements which can be bought at retail outlets such as supermarkets. GPs will not be banned outright from prescribing drugs on the `restricted list' but must instead exercise discretion, the PCT said. Linda Lord, support pharmacist, said posters giving details of the list would be displayed in all 27 surgery waiting rooms and 28 community pharmacists in the region from mid-July. ìThe intention is not for patients to go without the treatment they need and doctors can use their discretion to prescribe these medicines on the NHS for patients on low incomes, such as elderly people living off the state pension.î

Doctors to face competence checks
Doctors are to face regular competence checks to ensure they are fit to work under a radical reform of the medical profession. Announcing the plans, chief medical officer for England, Sir Liam Donaldson, said the test, known as revalidation, would have two strands, covering general and specialist skills. The burden of proof will be lessened from criminal standards (beyond all reasonable doubt) to civil standards (on the balance of probability). The proposals, which will go out for consultation until the end of November, have also proposed establishing an independent tribunal to judge when serious complaints are made against doctors and the General Medical Council prosecutes. James Johnson, chairman of the British Medical Association, criticised the burden of proof plans, saying they would ìopen the door to miscarriages of justice which will devastate the lives of doctors and their familiesî.

30th September 2008

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