A NEW deal for patients has been outlined by the president of the General Medical Council (GMC), speaking in the region.

Sir Donald Irvine told an audience at Northumbria University that he was hopeful that reforms carried out under his presidency would pave the way for a more patient-friendly medical profession.

It followed what he described as a seismic change in the relationship between doctors and their patients in recent years.

He said: "Patients want to be looked after by doctors who are knowledgeable and skilful in their chosen field, who are honest kind and respectful of patients, and who do everything in their power to help. They want doctors who they can trust and are strongly supportive of the many doctors who have these qualities."

Horror stories such as Bristol and Alder Hey, where children's organs were retained without the consent of parents and "awful surgery of the likes of Richard Neale, Rodney Ledward, Stephen Walker and others who carried on for so long whilst colleagues and others knew but felt unable to do anything to stop them" had forced the medical profession to reform itself, said Sir Donald, who started his career as a GP in Ashington, Northumberland.

Recent changes to the way the GMC processes complaints, and an increasingly prominent role for lay people in the organisation should ensure that serious complaints made against doctors are dealt with more quickly, he said.

But Sir Donald said that the combination of professional revalidation by all doctors, Government measures to ensure most complaints are dealt with locally and a change in medical culture should lead to a sharp reduction in the number of doctors referred to the GMC.