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Ground control to GMC

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Ah, just for a moment there I thought the GMC – with its deferring of GP revalidation and its agreement to consider Covid ‘circumstances’ in complaints against GPs – had finally arrived on Planet Primary Care.

On the other hand, maybe not. Because its recent updated guidance, while encouragingly stating that we should take a ‘proportionate approach’ to gaining patient consent – so presumably no more 10-page forms when I want to check a blood pressure – soon veers off into rarefied bonkersness.

I’ll bet you a roll of PPE aprons that you haven’t actually read the seven principles of decision making and consent that the GMC has just dispensed from on high, and frankly, if you have, you need more protection than a plastic pinny can offer.

So I’ll help you out here, but I’m only going to present the first four, and even they represent one minute of your life you won’t get back.

So here we go:

  • All patients have a right to be involved in decision making;
  • Decision making is an ongoing process focused on meaningful dialogue;
  • All patients have the right to be listened to and given the information they need to make a decision, and the time and support they need to understand it
  • Doctors must try to find out what matters to patients so they can share relevant information

Now, while you’re trying to digest that, I’ll remind you that the recently late and very great doyen of newspaper editors, Harold Evans, once said that you could tell if something was dull and irrelevant by seeing if the reverse notion was rather more interesting.

Applying this trick to the above, we end up with no patients having the right to be involved in decision making which, besides, should be a one-off, one-sided, rushed and doctor-centric monologue conducted by a deaf GP in Serbo-Croat, except if the patient happens to be Serbian or Croatian.

Or, to put it another way, vacuous pronouncements like this mean that, no, the GMC hasn’t landed and so definitely isn’t grounded.

Instead it continues to orbit high above us, detached and irrelevant, blinking at whatever it is that’s going on way below.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

John Glasspool 30 September, 2020 7:28 pm

U drugu ruku, su liječnici koji govore poneki hrvatski.

John Glasspool 30 September, 2020 7:29 pm

I promise you; retirement is so much more fun and better than being a GP. I’m learning Croatian, for example.

Andi Williams 5 October, 2020 12:34 pm

All in 10 minutes or less. Amazing. Guess I need to talk faster then.