Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Body Politic

A discriminating judgment

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 14 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a809
  1. Nigel Hawkes, health editor, The Times
  1. nigel.hawkes{at}

    The GMC’s stance on the retention fee for doctors over 65 raises the wider question of just who the GMC is actually for

    Doctors who have passed the age of 65 have had some unwelcome news. The General Medical Council has, on the advice of learned counsel, told them that the practice by which they are allowed to stay on the register without paying the annual retention fee is illegal.

    In future, says the GMC, doctors who want to remain on the register will have to pay the fee, which currently stands at £390 (€490; $780) a year. This has not been universally well received; nor does it seem to make sense. As one retired surgeon pointed out to me, life is full of examples where elderly people are given privileges: television licences, rail fares, bus passes, prescription fees, concessions on theatre and concert tickets. As Confucius put it: “Old age, believe me, is a good and pleasant thing. It is true you are gently shouldered off the stage, but then you are given such a comfortable front stall as a spectator.”

    Not if the GMC has its way. What makes …

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