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Thursday, 2 March, 2000, 15:29 GMT
Doctors turn on the GMC
Finlay Scott
GMC chief executive Finlay Scott faced MPs' questions
The General Medical Council (GMC) has come under fire from doctors' leaders who say it has lost the confidence of the public and the medical profession.

Chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) Dr Ian Bogle said the GMC was guilty of vague "vision statements" but no practical measures for tightening up regulation.



We have a regulatory system that is under attack by the government, which has lost confidence from doctors, which doctors worry no longer has the confidence of patients

Dr Mac Armstrong, BMA
The GMC has been criticised for failing to take action against Harold Shipman, the former GP found guilty of murdering 15 of his patients, who had previous convictons for forging prescriptions and misusing drugs to feed his own addiction.

There have also been allegations that it favours the medical profession over patients.

The GMC has set out plans for a radical overhaul of its own systems, increasing lay membership, speeding up disciplinary procedures and strengthening punishments for those found guilty of misconduct.

The government is also looking at self-regulation of the medical profession.

But Dr Bogle said, following a meeting of the BMA's council: "It was felt the leadership was coming up with vision statements but not with practical statements about how to deliver the vision on the ground.

"This is causing considerable anxiety among doctors. Unless they can turn the vision into what is actually going to happen, these anxieties are going to carry on."

Clear statement

He added: "What we are looking for is a clear statement from the GMC leadership about exactly what is going on and how the Government are receiving its suggestions."

His criticism came as chief executive of the GMC Finlay Scott was facing questions from the Commons Health Committee.

He called on the governmnet to clarify rules surrounding the disclosure of information about a doctor to a third party following the Shipman case.

Mr Scott told MPs he was concerned about issues raised by the Shipman case and had written to health secretary Alan Milburn.

BMA secretary Dr Mac Armstrong said that members of the association's council felt the medical profession's regulatory system was "the worst of all worlds".

He added: "There was a feeling that we have a regulatory system that is under attack by the government, which has lost confidence from doctors, which doctors worry no longer has the confidence of patients."

The BMA has set up a working party to draw up proposals for reforming the GMC. There are fears that if the government rejects the GMC's own proposals, self-regulation will be scrapped.

Mr Scott said after the Commons hearing: "We have attracted much criticism in recent months, some of it unfair and unwarranted. But we recognise that change is needed.

"We are determined to get this right for patients and will not be blown off course."

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See also:

12 Oct 99 |  Health
GMC 'unfair and biased'
23 Nov 99 |  Health
MPs: Reform NHS complaints
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