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At the heart of general practice since 1960

'I cannot sit back and watch an attack on our profession'

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When I was first made aware of a recent scathing article against general practice, published in the Daily Mail, I laughed out loud. This had to be some kind of a joke, surely? But, after reading the article, I soon realised this was far more sinister.

I’m sure, by now, we are immune to the rants of the Mail telling us we are all overpaid civil servants working a nine to five job. But this is different. Professor J Meirion Thomas is an eminent senior surgeon, a colleague, trying to persuade the great British public that GPs are about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Does freedom of speech give us carte blanche to write about anything we want, regardless of how derogatory or discriminatory it might be? Of course it doesn’t and we all know this. That is why there are laws to prevent a wide range of views from being eternalised into a digital footprint.

As doctors, we need to have a squeaky clean record where it comes to the law, as well as abiding by the guidance within General Medical Practice. Not only does it commit us to keeping up to date and ensuring patient safety and trust, it also tells us how to treat our colleagues.

More specifically, that we need to treat our colleagues fairly and with respect, respect their skills and contributions and be aware how our behaviour may influence others, within and outside the team.

After reading this article, I felt that the author had fallen short of the expected behaviour from a professional colleague of such high standing. I felt his statements about GPs show little respect for our skills or contribution to the NHS and I felt he had rubbished our entire profession, in an article that will be read not just by GPs but patients and medical students.

That is why I could not sit back and accept this attack on our profession. I have therefore written a three page letter to the GMC to outline my concerns about this article, which cannot be published for legal reasons.

Am I anxious about taking this action? You bet. I have no idea who he may be connected to and how it may affect my career. Do I think anything will come of this? Probably not, other than a polite letter thanking me for my concerns.

But throughout my career, in spite of the risks, the stress, the uncertainty of general practice, I have always consoled myself with going to bed at night and feeling like I have done the right thing.

And this felt like the right thing to do.

Dr Shaba Nabi is a GP trainer in Bristol. 

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Readers' comments (42)

  • Well done you!

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  • https://www.change.org/p/gmc-stop-prof-meirion-thomas-disrespecting-gps-female-and-overseas-doctors-in-the-media?recruiter=26356094&utm_campaign=twitter_link_action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

    An online petition linked by Una to send to the GMC about Prof Thomas. For reference as well Shaba

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  • Vinci Ho

    As I always say,you have to say and do things that you believe everyday. You are simply defending what you believe . Should feel proud of your action .
    And for those who are trying to twist the truth , go home tonight and look at your mirror, can you still recognise yourself?

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  • Una Coales

    1,373 supporters signed the Change petition and agree with you Shaba.

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  • People in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones. By writing this article, you could argue that you are casting a professional slur on the prof (whose article by the way, I do not defend). By all means report it to the appropriate body, but then don't indulge in giving him a trial by media yourself. Two wrongs, as ever, do not make a right...

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  • Dear Pulse Editor

    I think this article is crossing the line into a personal attack. Disagree with the article by all means (although everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however much you disagree with it, we do have a right to free speech). Again, reporting possible lack of professionalism is important. But publicising that you have reported someone to the GMC better they have made a judgement is never right

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  • Dont you believe it Shaba. Dr Martin Scurr (private GP) wrote a number of scathing articles about overpaid, underworked and over pensioned GPs. He forgot to mention in the articles that he hasnt worked in the NHS for many years and doesnt have an NHS pension. I complained to the GMC about him and he now only writes clinical articles.

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  • 2.43 and 2.54 pm - what nonsense.

    This is what Shaba said above- I felt that the author had fallen short of the expected behaviour from a professional colleague of such high standing. I felt his statements about GPs show little respect for our skills or contribution to the NHS and I felt he had rubbished our entire profession, in an article that will be read not just by GPs but patients and medical students.

    Which is mild compared to what he wrote. Neither is it a personal attack or slur but simply stating the obvious facts. Whatever the GMC judgement turns out to be, there's nothing wrong with publicising the fact that you've reported someone. better that than anonymous malicious reporting.

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  • Well said Shaba. Its time we took action like this. As you said, there might be a sinster side to the issue and might be linked to Hunt`s recent comment re taking his children to A&E. There is a concerted plan to undermine Primary care and make it fall.

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  • Dear Anonymous at 2.43 and 2.54 ... I acn say that I know Shaba Nabi personally and sh eis a coleague of the highest integrity and has credibility. She has said nothing derogatory at all about this Dr Meriyon Thomas if you care to go back and read her post. If she needs to be reported to the Editor ( how pathetic) , then, just as with spartacus, I would like to stand up and say...I am Shaba Nabi. There you go. Report me too.

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