The function of statutory self regulation is not to protect the public, its there to protect government ministers when a profession cocks up

February 22, 2012
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You have to laugh. Questions are being asked by real sceptics about the medical regulator ten years after Shipman. Is the GMC fit for purpose? 75 allegation have been made against surgeon David Jackson from 16 different patients going back to 2006 and the GMC has not held a hearing yet. Mr Jackson has now retired and is organising wedding receptions instead of cancer operations. No doubt his reputation is being protected by an old boys club, who always say the right thing and wear suits and ties to meetings.

Compare this to the reaction of the GCC to over 700 chiropractors, for using words like "treat" instead of “may help” on their websites. There was not a shred of evidence that patients were harmed by theses chiropractors “claims”, yet the chiropractic regulator the GCC, under pressure from “Skeptics” (spelt with a K; scepticism reserved for those who dare think outside the findings of a chemistry set), spent millions of pounds chasing these vexatious complaints. For no other reason than to demonstrate to the CHRE and department of health that  all was well in health regulation. Like the guys having their heads chopped off, unbelievably  chiropractors paid the axe man before he chopped of their head, so its difficulty to feel much sympathy for the profession today as they participated in their down fall. Before chiropractors are seen as part of the establishment, Peter Dixon et al will have to kiss a lot more ass, before some other poor CAM profession become the new whipping boys, maintaining the impression that regulation is there to protect the public. No doubt this is why the odious Margaret Coats has been appointed Chief Executive of the Council for Natural health care.

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  • rod macmillan

    A doctor has won his high court battle against being struck off over the MMR jab controversy. Prof John Walker-Smith appealed against the General Medical Council’s determination that he was guilty of serious professional misconduct. He was supported by parents of some of the children with autism and bowel disease treated by him at the Royal Free hospital, north London, until his retirement in 2001. TodayOn Wednesday Mr Justice Mitting, sitting at the high court in London, ruled that the GMC decision “cannot stand”. He quashed the 2010 finding of professional misconduct and the striking off. Calling for changes in the way GMC fitness to practise panel hearings are conducted , the judge said of the flawed handling of Walker-Smith’s case: “It would be a misfortune if this were to happen again.”Walker-Smith said: “I am extremely pleased with the outcome of my appeal … There has been a great burden on me and my family since the allegations were first made in 2004 and throughout the hearing that ran from 2007 to 2010. I am relieved that this matter is now over..” Thanking his supporters, he added: “I will never forget all the support I have received and I am truly grateful for it. I hope now to enjoy my retirement with my family.”In a written ruling, the judge made it clear that the judgment was the end of the case, and the GMC did not intend to appeal.The judge said the GMC fitness to practise panel’s conclusion that Walker-Smith was guilty of serious professional misconduct was flawed in two respects. There had been “inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion”.The decision to strike off had been defended at a recent hearing as “just and fair – not wrong” by Joanna Glynn QC, for the GMC.She said: “In spite of inadequate reasons it is quite clear on overwhelming evidence that the charges are made out.”The judge disagreed and said the misconduct finding and the sanction of erasure – striking off – “are both quashed”.In May 2010, Prof Walker-Smith lost his licence to practise with Dr Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who triggered a global scare about the MMR vaccine. A GMC fitness to practise panel found both guilty of misconduct over the way the research was conducted.The panel’s verdict followed 217 days of deliberation, making it the longest disciplinary case in the GMC’s 152-year history. It came 12 years after a 1998 paper in the Lancet suggested a link between the vaccine, bowel disease and autism, resulting in a plunge in the number of children having the vaccination.In 2004, the Lancet announced a partial retraction, and 10 of the 13 authors disowned it.Wakefield was the paper’s chief author and Walker-Smith the then head of the department of paediatric gastroenterology at the Royal Free, where the research was carried out.Walker-Smith’s clinical role focused on treatment related to sick children, while his academic work included collaborating in research with Wakefield.”It had to decide what Professor Walker-Smith thought he was doing: if he believed he was undertaking research in the guise of clinical investigation and treatment, he deserved the finding that he had been guilty of serious professional misconduct and the sanction of erasure.”If not, he did not, unless, perhaps, his actions fell outside the spectrum of that which would have been considered reasonable medical practice by an academic clinician.”Its failure to address and decide that question is an error which goes to the root of its determination. The panel’s decision cannot stand. I therefore quash it.”

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