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5 Jan 2009

Stations face closure over police surgeon contracts

By Nina Lakhani
Sunday, 4 January 2009

Police stations could be forced to close after more than two-thirds of London's police surgeons refused to sign a new contract which they have condemned as "legally and ethically unsound".

The London boroughs of Westminster and Islington are among 14 areas that have no forensic medical examiners listed to work after 12 January, when the new contract comes into force. Among other problems, it will mean that Paddington Green station, where suspected terrorists are held, will rely on privately contracted agency doctors.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) changed its contract as part of a wider restructuring of its health care system, which includes a larger role for nurses. In future, doctors will have to agree to these changes, including a new policy on sharing confidential medical records. They have been advised against signing the new contracts by lawyers and the General Medical Council.

Dr Michael Wilks, chair of the Society of Forensic Physicians, said: "The new contract is not about augmenting the service; it is about replacing experienced, independent doctors with nurses employed by the MPS. It would erode our crucial independence. It is legally unsound, ethically dangerous and unfit for purpose."

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