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At the heart of general practice since 1960

The main problem with the GMC is it tries to fulfil too many roles

The editorial comment on March 1 was refreshing but misguided.

Unfortunately you urged doctors to choose 'self-regulation' by supporting the GMC in its various roles, despite the fact that this organisation has frequently been found wanting by the doctors, the NHS, patients and the Shipman Inquiry.

As medical representation on the GMC has been reduced to just over half its membership, it is difficult to see how this represents professional self-regulation in any meaningful way. But the main problem is the GMC tries to fulfil too many roles.

Its first crucial role was to maintain the medical register. This should continue.

It no longer needs to supervise medical education as this is done by the medical colleges.

The development and maintenance of medical ethics should be divorced from the business of enforcing proper medical standards which currently is the main business of the GMC.

In our adversarial society it is unacceptable to perpetuate a system where doctors pay for a body that prosecutes fellow doctors for unacceptable behaviour. This activity should be carried out by an independent body, perhaps by the courts, so that doctor defendants can have the same standards of protection as are afforded to anyone subject to legal process.

'Protecting patients, supporting doctors'! I rest my case.

Dr Lewis Miller

Belfast

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