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Lancet editor attacks 'shameful' GPC leadership

By Steve Nowottny

The editor of the Lancet medical journal has launched a fierce personal attack on GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman, describing his handling of the extended hours dispute as ‘shameful'.

In a letter to the Times, Dr Richard Horton said Dr Buckman's ‘derogatory and damaging' criticism of the government failed to represent ordinary GPs.

‘This kind of insulting cynicism about politicians and their constituents from one of the most senior doctors in the country is both extraordinary and shameful,' wrote Dr Horton.

‘Until the medical profession has leaders who respect the democratic political process, set and example to other doctors by showing grace under pressure and put patients rather than their own interests first, the Government is right to ignore and bypass their catcalls.'



The extended hours dispute has become increasingly personal in recent days, as the GPC prepares to poll GPs on the government's contract offer later this month. On Monday, health secretary Alan Johnson went above the BMA's head to write directly to GPs, after ministers accused the association of ‘misrepresenting' the offer.

Dr Buckman declined to comment, but in a Radio 4 debate this morning, BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum defended the association's handling of the dispute.

‘I would suggest that we are a lot more in touch with the feelings and views of doctors than Richard Horton,' he said.

One GP told Pulse he was outraged by Dr Horton's attack.

‘I have just listened to the editor of the Lancet,' he said. ‘The last time I heard someone so comprehensively rubbish his own customers led to the collapse of Ratner's share prices.'

‘Whether you rubbish the choice of jewellery or the opinion of your readers the result is the same.'

Dr Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet

‘This kind of insulting cynicism about politicians and their constituents from one of the most senior doctors in the country is both extraordinary and shameful.' Dr Richard Horton

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