Patients in Northern Ireland could be required to give feedback on their doctor's performance under new proposals, the General Medical Council has said.
A consultation is currently underway to gauge reaction to the proposal which would see doctors assessed by their patients as part of a system of "revalidation" that, if implemented, will become the first of its kind in the world.
The idea has been put forward after a recent poll revealed that patients would welcome further reassurance that their doctor was subjected to regular checks on the standard of their treatment.
An overwhelming majority (96%) of respondents to the poll said they thought patient feedback was a crucial factor in assessing a doctor's performance.
Niall Dickson (pictured), chief executive of the General Medical Council, said: "We know that patients in this country justifiably trust their doctors and that is vital for good medical practice. But many also think that every doctor is already subjected to regular checks, and this is not the case – what this poll shows is that they would welcome further assurance.
"We believe the new system of revalidation will achieve that by showing that their doctor is up to date and fit to practise.
"It should become an integral part of high quality care in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK and if we get it right, we will lead the world."