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BMA presses ministers over universal hep B

The GMC's position at the moment is akin to a boxer who has been battered and bruised, but is slowly working his way back into the fight. In the GMC's corner is the medical profession, still offering support despite major reservations about the council's performance so far.

Keeping this confidence among doctors is crucial to the GMC's future. So evidence this week that it is facing a backlog of cases and missing its targets in dealing with complaints is highly damaging.

Changes in fitness to practise procedures last year coupled with the ongoing rise in complaints were bound to cause a rise in workload. But the GMC failed to plan for this, notably by not having enough case examiners. The resulting delays mean prolonged stress for GPs and patients.

For an organisation battling to hang on to its role, failings such as these are indefensible. And if they continue, those doctors in the GMC's corner will throw in the towel ­ bringing its fight to an inglorious end.

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