26 Jan 2009

Doctors to assess each other under proposed system

3:06 pm on 26 January 2009

The Medical Council wants doctors to adopt a system of peer review of their colleagues to help lift doctors' competence and boost patient safety.

The council has begun consulting doctors' groups over its plan to move to a system of doctors being assessed periodically by others within their specialty.

Those carrying out the reviews would visit the doctor, watch consultations, examine records and interview the practitioners' colleagues.

Council chairman John Campbell said despite robust requirements of doctors to keep up to date and meet standards, there is room for improvement.

Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson said the scheme would amount to a "warrant of fitness" for doctors to practise and would detect any inadequacies before they became a problem.

Mr Paterson said at the moment there is a tougher warrant of fitness system for cars than for doctors.

He said most doctors would welcome the chance for constructive feedback from their peers, and few would be found to have problems needing council attention.