Referral of Dr Peter Mansfield to the GMC

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7324.1304 (Published 01 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1304

Health authority has no power

  1. Richard Whitmore (irw50@lineone.net), primary care group chairman
  1. Lyppard Grange Medical Centre, Ankeridge Green Worcester WR4 0DZ
  2. Orkney Health Board, Kirkwall, Orkney KW16 3HA
  3. Rotherham General Hospital NHS Trust, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 3NA
  4. Burwell Surgery, Burwell, Cambridgeshire CB5 0AE
  5. Swanpool Medical Centre, Tipton DY4 OUB

    EDITOR—Majeed's editorial on the referral of Dr Peter Mansfield to the General Medical Council is flawed as he assumes that Worcestershire Health Authority has power in managing its responsibility for a successful public health immunisation campaign.1 It is precisely because the authority is impotent as a public statutory public body that it asked the GMC to intervene.

    The continuing debate about measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine dents the confidence of many public and professional people, not least because of the assumption that there is no smoke without fire. Majeed's third reference indicates his anxiety despite his initial position statement on the safety of the vaccine. Patients and the media take heed of these different emphases.

    Maintaining a high level of vaccination cover against diseases that are seen rarely or not at all poses serious difficulties. Majeed's role as an educationalist—a position of power and responsibility—could provide a forum where these difficulties are debated. The role of medical journals and the media should not be ignored in that debate. Their keenness for headlines containing bad news, however misguided or ill informed, while relegating good news to the middle pages or waste bins, provides a particular challenge for health education campaigns. As the chairman of Worcester City primary care group I have a responsibility for ensuring a high coverage of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination. I am unable to identify the power I wield in this role, other than to attempt to communicate to patients, health professionals, and the media.

    There is no evidence that single vaccines for mumps, measles, and rubella are safer than the combined vaccine as they have not been subject to the same level of scrutiny and no successful voluntary campaign of separate vaccinations has been conducted for these illnesses. If, however, measles, mumps, and rubella coverage …

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