Reforming the GMC

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7288.689 (Published 24 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:689

Current proposals make a muddle of the possibilities for radical change

  1. Steve Dewar (sdewar@kehf.org.uk), fellow,
  2. Belinda Finlayson, research officer
  1. Health Care Policy Programme, King's Fund, London W1G 0AN

    The consultation paper Protecting Patients: A Summary Consultative Document, published this week by the General Medical Council (GMC), Britain's licensing body for doctors, sets out options for reform under two main headings: the GMC's structure, constitution, and governance; and its procedures for dealing with allegations against doctors.1 The proposed reforms follow harsh criticism from the public, government, and doctors that the GMC is, among other things, unwieldy, slow, defensive, and constrained in its powers.

    The GMC currently consists of a council with 104 members, including 25 lay members. Under the GMC's preferred model for reform key decisions would be made by a new executive board of 20-25 members (60% medical and 40% lay). The board would be elected from, and accountable to, a wider council of around 80 members, equally split between medical and lay members. A lay chair would oversee the council, while a medical president would preside over the executive board.

    A small board with statutory powers should enable the GMC to become more decisive and responsive. It meets the government's tests for reform: smaller more transparent bodies acting with greater public involvement.2 It is also in line with best practice for the corporate sector3 and with the new Nursing and Midwives Council (NMC) and proposed Health Professionals Council (HPC). 4 5

    So …

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