Feature Profile

Terence Stephenson: ready to navigate stormy waters once again?

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h143 (Published 09 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h143
  1. Gareth Iacobucci, news reporter, The BMJ, London, UK
  1. giacobucci{at}bmj.com

Terence Stephenson was at the helm of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges during a turbulent period for the NHS. He reflects with Gareth Iacobucci on the eve of his next challenge, chairing the General Medical Council

As president of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Terence Stephenson represented 220 000 doctors in the midst of turbulent NHS reorganisation and financial crisis. His new role as chairman of the General Medical Council, as of 1 January, is an even sterner test of his diplomacy skills, with the regulator under scrutiny, including over how it investigates misconduct.

Stephenson’s approach to turmoil is calm and conciliatory, as shown by his two years at the academy. The role was not just ceremonial but required him to represent the disparate interests of 21 UK medical colleges and faculties during a period of huge instability in the NHS: financial problems combined with the imposition of former health secretary Andrew Lansley’s controversial Health and Social Care Act 2012.

“I felt the medical profession was rather on the outside and needed to put itself in a place where it was part of the solution,” says Stephenson, describing this as his starting point when he became president of the academy in 2012, taking over from Neil Douglas.

A paediatrician and previous president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stephenson was opposed to the NHS reforms but felt the profession had a responsibility to try to implement them …

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