Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Gutless Medical Council

It is now around 24 hours since, in this post, I questioned the General Medical Council's apparent inertia concerning the growing list of doctors accused of terrorist activity in the UK. As the BBC reports, all of the suspects in custody have links to the NHS, and the vast majority of them are doctors, including Khalid Ahmed, Sabeel Ahmed, Mohammed Haneef, Mohammed Asha and Bilal Abdullah.

Yet the GMC, the body charged with governing the conduct of doctors and protecting the public, has made no move to reassure the public. In fact, the press release and news updates section of the GMC's website doesn't even mention the situation, let alone offer any information or advice for the public.

The GMC derives its power from the Medical Act, but it's day to day operations are driven by secondary legislation, specifically, Statutory Instrument 2004 No. 2608, The General Medical Council (Fitness to Practise) Rules Order of Council 2004, otherwise known as the Fitness to Practise Rules 2004.

I would say that, under the circumstances, an "allegation" as mentioned in the Rules, has been made against the detained doctors, at least to the extent that the GMC must take an interest in their alleged activities. It also seems to me that Rule 6, Referral to the Interim Orders Panel, might have some relevance to this case, and that it is entirely within the GMC's power to temporarily suspend them from the medical register until the position becomes clearer.

Why, then, has the GMC not done so? Or, indeed, made any comment whatsoever on the single most important news story in the UK today? Surely, al-Quaeda's chilling, "Those who cure you will kill you" warning, reported in the Times, should be enough to convince even the overwhelmingly obtuse GMC that nothing less than public confidence in the medical profession is at stake.

Paralysis in the face of such a disturbing threat is simply not good enough; leadership, decisive action and reassurance are required to restore public confidence in the medical profession. Sadly, the GMC has, to date, failed to provide any such thing, thereby demonstrating its absolute detachment from the public it is supposed to protect, and its utter irrelevance to modern society.

Come on, guys, admit it - the GMC justifies its existence by chasing down minor misdemeanors, and anything more significant is entirely beyond your capabilities. You haven't got a clue how to handle this situation, and your routine fallback position of turning the allegation back upon the complainant isn't going to help you this time, is it?

Unfortunately, much as I welcome this definitive demonstration of the GMC's incompetence, it does nothing whatsoever to alleviate the public's entirely legitimate concerns regarding the safety and trustworthiness of "those who cure them". Shame.

Billy Seggars.

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