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EDITIONS
GMC: Public confidence is damaged
Finlay Scott
Finlay Scott said better monitoring was needed
The chief executive of the General Medical Council (GMC) has admitted the Shipman case has damaged public confidence in the medical profession.

Finlay Scott defended the GMC decision to allow Dr Shipman to continue practising despite a conviction for personal drugs misuse in 1976.

He told the BBC it was important to recognise that the Shipman murders represented a "wholly exceptional case".


Something has gone badly wrong here. It is bound to damage public confidence, and we will have to work hard to restore that

Finlay Scott, Chief Executive, General Medical Council
He said: "The contrast between Dr Shipman and the rest of the profession could not be starker.

"Doctors in this country provide high quality care, and do they do so kindly and conscientiously.

"Something has gone badly wrong here. It is bound to damage public confidence, and we will have to work hard to restore that."

Mr Scott said the GMC would closely with the NHS and other agencies to see what lessons can be learned.

Drugs conviction

He said Dr Shipman's 1976 conviction had been looked at carefully.

On the basis of psychiatrists' reports, the GMC concluded that Dr Shipman was not a risk to patients.

Mr Scott quoted from the official report into the nurse Beverley Allitt, who was convicted of murdering children in her care.

He said: "The secretive and determined criminal can defeat even the best regulated system in pursuit of his or her interests."

He said it was important that local monitoring systems were required that kept a doctor's practice under review, and ensured that problems were identified and dealt with quickly.

It is only 24 years later that it seems starkly obvious that there was a bigger problem than presented at the time

Finlay Scott, Chief Executive, General Medical Council
The GMC has decided to put in place a system of revalidation that will ensure that every doctor's fitness to practice will be regularly reviewed.

Mr Scott said that even with the benefit of hindsight, the GMC's decision not to strike off Dr Shipman in 1976 seemed to be justified.

"Given the evidence available at the time and in particular the strong reports that Dr Shipman had overcome his drugs problem, it is fair to say the committee reached a justifiable decision.

"It is only 24 years later that it seems starkly obvious that there was a bigger problem than presented at the time."

Find out more about the Shipman murders

Trial and reaction

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

31 Jan 00 | Health
31 Jan 00 | Health
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