GMC under the coshBMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7135.945a (Published 21 March 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:945
- Richard Smith, editor
Self regulation of the medical profession is coming under increasing media scrutiny, writes Richard Smith. Last week, Channel 4's Dispatches continued the attack on the GMC
These are difficult times for the General Medical Council. The media seem to be circling, perhaps sensing a kill. The media are, of course, not one thing but a collection of newspapers, magazines, and radio and television programmes, most of them in furious competition. They do not ever sit down together and decide that something is a story, although they do feed off each other. Thus, when you see a pattern of stories about one organisation—like the GMC—it may mean that the media are reflecting some deeper social mood.
Sir Donald Irvine, the current president of the GMC, constantly reminds doctors that self regulation is not a right of professionals but rather a privilege that has to be earned every day. The media seem to be arguing that the medical profession is not keeping its side of the bargain—to guarantee that registered doctors are competent and trustworthy. And what the media say today, politicians may be forced to act on tomorrow, whether they want to or not. Few politicians want to pick a fight with the medical profession. Nor do they want to pick up the costs and headaches of regulating doctors, but there may come a point when …