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Former BMJ editor claims doctors’ leaders need to form new group

29 October 2007

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A former editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) claims that doctors’ leaders are guilty of acting selfishly and squabbling among themselves.

Dr Richard Smith is calling for wholesale reform of the bodies that represent doctors, and is urging the creation of a new leadership group.

Dr Smith said neither the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal Colleges of Medicine or the General Medical Council (GMC) are capable of properly representing the profession.

Writing in the BMJ, he said: “British medicine lacks coherent, strategic, high level leadership.

“Instead we have a plethora of self-interested, ineffective, squabbling bodies.

“The BMA is the largest and richest of the medical organisations, but it can never be the high level, strategic body that is needed because – no matter that it may pretend otherwise – it is a self-interested trade union.”

He added that the royal colleges are “politically naive, poor, and incapable of strategic thought”, and he said the GMC is accountable to patients, not doctors, as required by Parliament.

He concluded: “Medical organisations have been reluctant to surrender power and independence, but none of the existing organisations is up to the task.

“If medicine doesn’t want to follow teaching into being a low status profession, it desperately needs to reform its leadership.”


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