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RCGP denies chair’s ‘bizarre’ newsletter column likened BMA to chimpanzees

A&E letter

The RCGP has said a recent newsletter column penned by its chair was not referring to the BMA when it likened the behaviour of ‘healthcare leaders’ to chimpanzees.

A number of general practice Twitter users discussed Professor Martin Marshall’s column, which some found ‘bizarre’.

The column focused on a ‘fascinating’ podcast Professor Marshall had listened to about the behaviour of chimpanzees.

Referring to groups of chimpanzees, Professor Marshall wrote: ‘The leader has to occasionally fight other ambitious members of the troop to maintain their supremacy but as soon [as] they have asserted their authority, they seek reconciliation with the vanquished, and in doing so avoid repeated attacks. Leaders that fail to be conciliatory rapidly lose their dominant position.’

And he added: ‘What do you think? Perhaps one or two lessons for healthcare leaders?’

In response, some speculated that the ‘healthcare leaders’ Professor Marshall referred to could be the BMA.

Watford GP Dr Simon Hodes tweeted: ‘Perhaps he’s making reference to NHSE and BMA getting back into the same room? But there’s possible better ways to blog.’

NHS England has recently invited the BMA to return to formal meetings – which have been paused since May due to the row over suggestions that practices were closed.

Meanwhile, the Parody RCGP Twitter account posted: ‘Am I the only one who finds this bizarre?’

But an RCGP spokesperson told Pulse: ‘Just Saying is a regular column written by the College chair as an introduction to our weekly update to members. 

‘It covers a wide range of issues, some of which are serious and some more light-hearted. 

‘The most recent column was not intended to single out individuals or organisations and we are sorry if some readers have interpreted it in this way.’


IDGAF . 27 August, 2021 7:48 pm

Is the “What do you think?” bit rhetorical?

Chimpanzee behaviour can be observed, but interpretations as to what the motivations are is anthropomorphic projection in action. Meaning is applied, not derived. Hence expert opinion changes and evolves. Story-telling which can be co-opted to support a vested perspective or opinion, such as Prof Marshall could well be doing with his mumblings.

John Graham Munro 28 August, 2021 8:57 am

The Chimpanzee community is outraged at such a clumsy comparison

John Glasspool 28 August, 2021 6:28 pm

I’m with JGM- unfair to chimps

James Bissett 31 August, 2021 10:14 am

perhaps a great big black Monolith will appear……………….