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3 – Sir Donald Irvine

Sir Donald Irvine had a major role in shaping the regulation of general practice and the promotion of high-quality care.

He was a GP in Northumberland for 35 years and chaired the RCGP between 1983 and 1985. But he is perhaps best known for his role as president of the GMC, to which he was elected in 1995 – the first GP ever to hold the office.

It was a rocky time for the medical profession, following the deaths of children at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the organ retention scandal at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, and doctors were under scrutiny as never before. In response, Dr Irvine oversaw the development of Good Medical Practice, setting out the duties and responsibilities of every UK doctor. He was also behind proposals for five-yearly ‘MOTs' for medics, the precursor to revalidation.

Commenting on plans for GP appraisals to be the sole source of evidence for revalidation, he said: ‘It's asking the NHS to be the regulator of doctors in all but name. That is not its role nor what it was designed to do.'

Top 50 GPs Top 50 most influential GPs

To view the full list of Pulse's top 50 most influential GPs, put together by a panel of leading GPs to mark Pulse's 50th anniversary, please click here.