• The GDC has commenced a review of its “Standards Guidance and Scope of Practice” since the way in which the GDC regulates, and who it regulates, has changed over the five years since the guidance was published. Comments are invited at: standards@gdc-uk.org and it is hoped that the new guidance will be published in 2012.  
  • The Care Quality Commission has published its first annual report into the use of the Mental Health Act 2007. Three main areas have been highlighted for improvement, which are: (1) involving patients in decisions about their care and treatment; (2) assessing and recording patients’ consent to treatment and (3) minimising restrictions on patients and avoiding ‘blanket’ security measures. The report can be read in full on the CQC’s website at: http://www.cqc.org.uk/mentalhealthactannualreport2009-10/downloadthereport.cfm  
  • West Kent Primary Care Trust (the PCT) has suspended “non-urgent” IVF treatments and surgeries for obesity and gender change until April 2011. Its decision is to be reviewed in April 2011, which suggests that it may not be a short-term solution. It also plans to prescribe cheaper medication for age-related macular degeneration. These measures are being introduced to avoid a projected £40m overspend of the PCT’s budget within the first six months of 2011. This follows NHS Warwickshire’s recent announcement that there will be no IVF treatments, orthopaedic surgery and other “low priority” procedures without prior authorisation. As the NHS purse strings continue to tighten, it seems likely that other PCTs will follow suit.