Open letter to Professor Peter Rubin, chair of the General Medical CouncilBMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c3884 (Published 21 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3884
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A number of paediatricians have already expressed concern to the
Chair of the GMC regarding the Council's decision to appoint Penny Mellor
to the Expert Group on Child Protection (BMJ 2010; 341: c3884). The GMC,
in typical arrogant fashion, has apparently chosen to ignore the concerns of those
paediatric practitioners involved in child protection cases.
Paediatricians however are not the only specialists who have been
astonished and dismayed by this appointment. Those of us who have to deal
with child deaths (paediatric pathologists, forensic pathologists and
neuropathologists) regard Mrs Mellor's appointment as wholly inappropriate
and one which does a disservice to those experts who have been
subject to personal abuse and unwarranted criticism from this self-
appointed advocate for those parents who have been accused of causing
injury or death to their children.
This is a woman who has been convicted of "conspiring to abduct a
child" and who was severely criticised by the trial judge - criticism
which either the GMC did not read or chose to ignore.
Many paediatric and forensic pathologists decline to
conduct autopsies in cases of child deaths where non-accidental injury is
suspected. Such reluctance is hardly surprising in view of the criticism
which their colleagues have had to deal with from Mrs Mellor and her
Had Mrs Mellor been a registered medical practitioner her conviction
for conspiring to abduct a child and her campaign of personal vilification
against doctors would have resulted in an appearance before a Fitness to
Practise Panel. It seems that the GMC whilst expecting registered
practitioners to conform to the principles of good medical practice are
prepared to pass over wholly unacceptable behaviour in those individuals who
sit on its expert group.
It seems to us that this is a further example of how the GMC is out
of touch with the profession and explains, at least in part, why so many
practitioners have little confidence in the Council.
Competing interests: J Crane - GMC Associate, chairing Fitness to Practise Panels.M Green - Member Professionals Against Child Abuse.P Vanezis - Member of GMC Performance Assessment Panel for Forensic Medicine/Pathology.