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GMC rejects complaint against health minister over out-of-hours comments

Exclusive Health minister Dr Dan Poulter will not be investigated by the GMC over his claims regarding the performance of A&E departments and that GP out-of-hours care had been ‘scrapped’ following the 2004 GP contract.

The regulator dismissed a complaint submitted by GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden, who claimed the health minister - who is a qualified doctor - had reduced the standing of the profession, claiming it was an issue of ‘free speech’.

In a letter from the GMC to Dr Holden, the regulator said they ‘fully understand’ why Dr Holden raised the issue, but it would not be investigating the matter further.

The letter was sent last month, and says: ‘We have carefully considered your concerns against the doctor and we fully understand bringing this to the GMC’s attention.

‘I am sure you also appreciate that it is not for the GMC to become involved in issues of free speech and expression opinions on matters.

‘We do not believe that we have evidence that the doctor has deliberately misled Parliament or provided views that would warrant censure by the GMC. As such we cannot at present, investigate this matter further.’

Dr Poulter told Radio 4’s Today programme in April: ‘There isn’t the community-based care that there used to be, thanks to the previous Government scrapping the GP out-of-hours system and that has put a lot of pressure on the system.

‘It means that we are in a much more difficult place to deal with and actually better help people who could be better looked after at home in their community, and indeed divert less serious cases, for example someone with a sore throat, who would normally turn up to their GP, they are now sort of being forced to turn up at A&E because they haven’t got a GP to see out of hours.’

Dr Holden asked the health minister to explain why he should not refer him to the GMC for ‘reducing [doctors’] standing with the public, and reducing the public confidence in the profession’, but he received no reply.

Speaking today, Dr Holden said: ‘The record is public and everybody heard it.’

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Readers' comments (11)

  • So for a doctor to publicly denigrate General Practice is simply an expression of free speech but for the same doctor to have said the same thing anonymously in the future eg writing as Dr Copperfield etc etc will lead to a GMC hearing

    What a bunch of tossers!

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  • He was speaking in his capacity as a politician and not as a doctor.Secondly his attack was not aimed at a specific doctor but was making a general comment.There was no way that the GMC was going to censure him and i'm sure Dr Holden already knew that ;-)

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  • Tom Caldwell

    Luckily the GMC never bows to political pressure. I do hope Dan is keeping up his CPD and clinical work to levels required for revalidation. Of course he won't allow this to take up any of the time he should be spending as a health minister. Anyone else think Daniel Leonard James Poulter may have a conflict of interests if he feels he can......

    Provide a good standard of practice and care.
    Keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date.

    ............whilst employed as a health minister?

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  • Well, this decision will comeback to haunt GMC. Now any time the GMC finds any doctor of bringing the profession into disrepute, the appeal will quote this. Given Dan Poulters interview is on record, while in most cases it would be just one persons word against another it would be hard for GMC to act.
    As the Zenmaster said "wait and see".

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  • Although I have sympathy with anonymous 5:29 , the issue is well documented that your obligations as a Doctor extend into all areas of your life and at all times. See GMC guidance on Doctors as Managers and the historical record on Doctors receiving sanction for action "in private life" such as consorting with prostitutes, convictions for minor public disorder abroad, and I predict within a few years stating an opinion in an electronic forum claiming medical qualification without identification.
    GMC 3274057

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  • 'this comment has been deleted by the moderator'.

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  • Thank you-11.39am!!!Dr Martin SCURR repeatedly abuses NHS GPs while referring to himself as simply a "London GP". He fails to disclose to Daily Mail readers that he is a very wealthy mult-millionaire PRIVATE GP. In his latest article,he exposes his ignorance by demanding the opening of surgeries at weekends and "bringing back home visits".Any NHS GP can tell you that this ALREADY happens every day across the country!! I have repeatedly thought of referring him but have no confidence that it would have any effect and concede it I would be a waste of time. He is clearly free to continue committing this smear campaign unchallenged

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  • yes, The Portobello clinic (Dr Scurr) now hide their fees but we all know how much they are pocketing! And how much OOH does Dr Martin SCURR do?? Mind you keeping up a MULTI-millionaire lifestyle requires money. Thank goodness they charge FULL-PRICE for DNAs and late cancellations!! Money, money, money must be funny in a rich man's world da dah da dad dah slag off NHS GPs da dah dah all the things you could do, do, do. Money, money, money must be funny........

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  • is he muddled between the hypocratic oath and hypocrisy...????

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