The poisoned legacy of Shipman
A year has passed since the report of the Shipman Inquiry presaged a new era in general practice.
Dame Janet Smith's devastating conclusions triggered a review of regulation and revalidation by Sir Liam Donaldson which will be published early in the new year.
One does not have to invoke the ghost of Christmas future to know it will bring harsher scrutiny of GPs.
Yet, as stories in Pulse this week show, the inquiry's condemnation of the regulatory environment surrounding GPs has already consigned doctors to practising in a poisonous climate of suspicion.
Outrageous charges against GPs
Take the case of Dr Bhupender Sacha. A jury took just 20 minutes to clear him of allegations that he sexually assaulted a patient, prompting the judge to condemn the Crown Prosecution Service for letting the case get to court.
Then there is Dr Paul Davis. Arrested on suspicion of murdering a chronically ill patient, he was cleared by police a year ago. The GMC placed no restrictions on his practice at the time, but has since decided he should face a fitness-to-practise hearing next July at the earliest.
This cannot be right. GPs want a strong GMC that fights to protect professionally-led regulation and takes action against the minority doctors who damage the reputation of the majority. They also need a fair GMC. But more than that, they need to be able to work without the fear that every consultation could end their career.