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Gold, incentives and meh

Crunch time approaches for self-regulation

Doctors hold self-regulation as an essential facet of their professionalism. The alternative, state regulation, rightly sends shivers down medical spines. Yet the GMC's existence is likely to be under enormous threat when the Shipman Inquiry reports this summer. The council and its plans for revalidation have been damningly criticised in a letter presaging the inquiry's verdict. If the concerns are reflected in the inquiry's final report, ministers will conclude that the GMC does not protect the public.

The Government has much of its own regulatory framework in place ­ appraisal, clinical governance, CHI and the National Clinical Assessment Authority. Ending self-regulation is now only a small step for ministers to take.

The leaked letter is the profession's final warning. Doctors must show the strength that the GMC as an organisation has not. They must convince the public that they can be trusted to regulate themselves. Time is running out. For the GMC it may already be too late.

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