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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.’