UK & World News
Doctors Face Annual Fitness-To-Practice Test
Doctors' skills are to be checked every year to ensure they are fit to practice.
From December, every doctor will have an annual assessment, with a more comprehensive meeting to test their competence every five years.
The new rules have been brought in by the Department of Health in conjunction with the General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates the profession.
They are the biggest change to medical regulation for 150 years.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Doctors save lives every day and making sure they are up to speed with the latest treatments and technologies will help them save even more.
"This is why a proper system of revalidation is so important."
At present doctors may never face a formal assessment of their skills throughout their entire career.
But following the inquiry into serial killer and GP Dr Harold Shipman, medical authorities called for a new system that could flag up problems with doctors far earlier.
In one pilot study of 3,000 doctors, concerns were raised in about 1% of medics.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: "The decision to press ahead with revalidation after many years of preparation and planning means that we'll be able to have a comprehensive system of regular checks for all doctors registered in the UK."
The chair of the British Medical Association, Dr Mark Porter, said patients must have confidence that doctors have up-to-date skills.
But he added: "There is too much bureaucracy in the NHS and so we have to be careful that revalidation does not add to this unnecessarily.
"We still need to ensure consistency across the UK so that all doctors are working to the same standards. And it is vital that sufficient support exists across the UK for those doctors who need it."