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BMA Conference Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Doctors savage GMC 'dinosaur'
The way the General Medical Council operates is at the centre of the row
The way the General Medical Council operates is at the centre of the row
Doctors have renewed their attack on the General Medical Council, with key talks on the future of professional regulation imminent.

Members of the British Medical Association, at their annual conference in Bournemouth, only rejected a vote of no confidence in the GMC after the intervention of the association's head, Dr Ian Bogle.

They lambasted the regulatory body for being "gargantuan and a dinosaur."

And were only mollified when Dr Bogle gave a personal assurance that he would veto its proposals for reform.


Parochial, tinpot oligarchy

Dr Ian Bailey's view of the GMC
He also said he would call for a Royal Commission to address the issue if the concerns of rank and file members were not addressed.

Last year's BMA conference did pass a motion of no confidence in the GMC.

And GMC president Sir Donald Irvine last month announced his resignation amid sustained criticism from doctors over his leadership.

Differences

Talks on how professional self-regulation should be reformed are due to take place next week between the BMA and GMC.

GMC president Sir Donald Irvine, who is to step down later this year
GMC president Sir Donald Irvine, who is to step down later this year
It is likely to be the last chance to thrash out their differences before the GMC publishes its final proposals on major reforms of its structure and functions at the end of this month.

The ability of the medical profession to police itself has been thrown into question by the scandals at Alder Hey and Bristol.

But, despite agreement that self-regulation is the best way ahead, the BMA and GMC vehemently disagree about how to progress.

Some doctors fear that if no common ground can be found, ministers will impose government regulation on the profession.

Doctors at the BMA's conference said the GMC needed to improve.

James Johnson, chairman of the BMA's working party on GMC reforms, said: "Somehow, the GMC has got to get the confidence of the profession and the public back.

"Doctors feel as if the GMC is disconnected from the profession."

Dr Ian Bailey, a GP from Maldon in Essex, called the GMC a "parochial, tinpot oligarchy".

And Worcestershire GP Dr John Ball, said it was a "gargantuan organisation which is an archaic dinosaur".

Reform plans

The BMA and GMC have their own proposals for reform.

The GMC wants an electoral college, chosen by doctors, who would appoint a ruling executive of 15-25 members.

Sixty per cent would be doctors, and the rest lay members.

The BMA wants a one-tier structure with around 50 members, and the same ratio of doctors to lay people.

It has also attacked the GMC's plans for revalidation - the five-yearly checks which will ensure doctors are still fit to practice.

Grassroots doctors also want to see a complete separation of the GMC's dual role as prosecutor and judge in disciplinary cases.

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