This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pul jul aug2020 cover 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

Independents' Day

9. Dr Margaret McCartney

Overdiagnosis challenger

Pulse Power 50 2015 logo 120x110

This Glasgow GP is a familiar face – writing for the Guardian and BMJ and on social media. But this year her work stepped up a gear.

Colleagues said that Dr Margaret McCartney should be nominated for ‘championing the fight against overdiagnosis’ and ‘questioning and challenging bad medicine in the media’.

And she is now making the weather, after starting a new working group on overdiagnosis at the RCGP. It was this group that recently authored a robust submission to Public Health England calling for the NHS Health Checks programme to be suspended until there was ‘robust evidence in support of it’.

She is still a regular on Radio 4’s Inside Health programme, which provided no-nonsense advice for the public on a range of topics – from managing lifestyle to gluten-free diets.

She also blasted over-prescribing of statins last December in an article for the Guardian that was shared more than 600 times on Twitter.

And people are listening. In June, the medical royal colleges announced they would all pick five interventions that were unnecessary under the ‘Choose Wisely’ banner. It is a major move to combat the tide that favours more and more medical intervention in people’s lives.

Dr McCartney says: ‘I love the uprising of grassroots GPs on social media that is making a real impact on cuts to social care, nonsense QOF, and hoop-jumping, all of which are causing stress and do not benefit patients.

‘Jeremy Hunt has managed to unite doctors in collective derision, and for this alone I am grateful.’

Her tip for colleagues? ‘GPs who are not yet tweeting should consider joining in – it’s the new medical mess and is essential ( for my survival anyway).’

This coming year will no doubt see her grow in stature as a campaigner, but look out for her last non-fiction book – after that she’s switching to novels (you heard it here first).

<<< Back to Power 50

Rate this article  (5 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (2)

  • Should be number one
    Could be a brilliant ethical rational leader of a profession currently so badly led by idiotic sycophants who lead gps into so much non evidence based pet political projects like the insanity of admissions avoidance etc etc... ad infinitum as though we are prostitutes who will do anything however medically ludicrous wasteful and damaging For monetary bribes.In the name of God we should be an independent science based Profession.....this is a major reason for the collapse in GP morale a profession we should be dictating to politicians what primary care needs yet we are currently doormats for whatever laughable garbage comes out of grossly ignorant politicians whose stupidity in recent years has become surreal.
    Wish someone like her could demolish every nonsense policy with her devastating intelligent rationality.
    I have learnt so much from her remarkably intelligent sane and level headed writings
    11 out of 10

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Should be number one.

    In case I did not say this clearly enough:

    Should be number 1.


    Dr Peter J Gordon

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say