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GMC reveals it urged iwantgreatcare website to take down 'misleading' claims

By Steve Nowottny

The GMC demanded a controversial new rate-your-GP website take down ‘potentially misleading' claims that it would help doctors meet revalidation requirements, Pulse has learned.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act shows how the regulatory body, having originally offered the www.iwantgreatcare.org website space in its newsletter, sought to distance itself from the site after it met overwhelming opposition from doctors.

The website, which allows patients to anonymously rate doctors, has received thousands of hits since its launch over the summer - but attracted vociferous criticism from many GPs.

The GMC's chief executive, Finlay Scott, wrote to Dr Neil Bacon, the website's founder, shortly after its launch, requesting amendments to the site.

‘In the guidance to doctors section, it is suggested that feedback facilitated by the site will help doctors meet ‘GMC requirements for revalidation',' wrote Mr Scott. ‘As it stands, I think this is potentially misleading and it would helpful if you would arrange for early and appropriate modification of the relevant text.'

A GMC staff member later reported that all mention of the GMC had been removed from the site, although he warned: ‘It is possible that a canny journalist or doctor will spot these modifications and suspect some kind of intervention on our part.'

The documents also reveal that the editor of the GMC's newsletter GMCToday expressed grave misgivings after Dr Bacon was invited to contribute to the newsletter by GMC president Sir Graeme Catto.

In an email to a colleague in external relations in early July, he said he agreed with a complaint received from a doctor.

‘To be honest, I agree with [Name removed],' he wrote. ‘The site was indeed untested and as such perhaps we shouldn't have promoted it, but this was a piece that Graeme ‘offered'.'

Website founder Dr Bacon said this week: 'The references to the GMC on the pre-launch website were minor typographical errors regarding revalidation, which needed further clarification. We happily agreed to change the wording to ensure it was clear to visitors to the site.'

He added that since its launch 95 per cent of all doctor reviews had been positive.

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