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Feature Corruption in Medicine

Gurinder Singh Grewal: can the new medical council president clean up medicine in Punjab?

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 09 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3694

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Priyanka Pulla, journalist, Bangalore, India

The media are praising him for his anticorruption stance, but can Gurinder Singh Grewal make a real and lasting difference to widespread unethical medical practice in the state? Priyanka Pulla asks him

“I have seen professional ethics deteriorate since I became a doctor in 1974,” Gurinder Singh Grewal, a Ludhiana based gastroenterologist who became president of the Punjab Medical Council last July, told The BMJ.

Since taking the helm the media have portrayed him as a crusader against medical corruption in the state.1 2 3 These assertions are hard to verify independently because the Punjab Medical Council doesn’t publish disciplinary action taken against doctors.

Among Grewal’s supporters are the physician Gautam Ahluwalia, also of Ludhiana, who says that Grewal is blazing a new trail in the enforcement of medical ethics, and Samiran Nundy, a gastroenterologist in New Delhi, who says that India needs such doctors in positions of authority to root out corruption.

But Grewal also has critics—for example, Surinder Pal Singh Sooch, a member of the medical council by virtue of his position as president of the Punjab chapter of the Indian Medical Association, told The BMJ that he has not seen any evidence for the claims made in the media about Grewal’s work. Grewal said in response that the Punjab Medical Council rules don’t require the president to inform the council’s general body about sending notices to errant doctors for ethical breaches. It is only when action is to be taken against doctors that the medical council needs to be consulted. Grewal also added that he prefers to communicate his actions directly to the media to maintain transparency.

So, what substance is there to the news stories glorifying Grewal, and can he leave a lasting legacy to diminish the pervasive corruption in medical education and practice …

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