14.04.2024

Medics set to sue General Medical Council for failing to clamp down on conspiracy theorists

Angry doctors have accused the General Medical Council of negligence for failing to crack down on medics who spread false information about jabs.

They say the doctors’ regulator – charged with protecting patients and maintaining standards in medicine – is shirking its statutory responsibility to police its members properly.

All practising doctors in the UK must be registered with the body.

Six clinicians have launched a crowdfunding initiative to raise £15,000 to pay for a judicial review of the GMC’s decision not to bring high profile doctors before a fitness to practise panel.

They say its failure to do so has serious implications for public health. Dr David Nicholl, one of the six and a consultant neurologist in Birmingham, said: ‘I am so angry that the GMC is doing nothing.

Angry doctors have accused the General Medical Council of negligence for failing to crack down on medics who spread false information about Covid-19 jabs, picture posed by model

Angry doctors have accused the General Medical Council of negligence for failing to crack down on medics who spread false information about Covid-19 jabs, picture posed by model

The medics are crowdfunding to take a case against medics promoting conspiracy theories

‘It’s in direct contravention of what it should stand for.

‘I’m a passionate believer in free speech, but with it comes responsibility. The question here is should doctors be free to publicly say what they want, whatever the consequences?’

A small number of high-profile British medics have used their social media status to repeatedly spread vaccine misinformation, the doctors allege. This includes heavily disputed claims on Twitter and in TV interviews that some or all Covid vaccines are ineffective and cause widespread serious heart problems.

In a statement last week the group said some of the anti-vax messages implied ‘particular deaths are due to the vaccines, when there is no evidence to support that link’.

It added: ‘We don’t mean pointing out that vaccines occasionally cause harm. We mean wilfully and repeatedly misrepresenting the evidence on vaccines in a way that significantly over-emphasises their harm.

‘The GMC has a statutory remit to investigate doctors who… behave in a way that brings the profession into disrepute.’

The group said the failure to act is in direct contrast to the recent expulsion by the Conservative Party of North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen for making ‘false and misleading’ anti-vaccine statements.

Watchdog Ofcom ruled last month that GB News was at fault for allowing a doctor to liken the vaccine roll-out to ‘mass murder’.

The six doctors’ statement added: ‘Surely the GMC should also be investigating doctors who make statements that are scientifically incorrect and misleading?’

Trisha Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Healthcare at Oxford University, expressed her support for the action on Twitter.

She said: ‘I agree that the GMC should not routinely wash its hands of such cases.’

In a statement to The Mail on Sunday, the GMC said: ‘We take action where there is evidence of a risk to patients or public confidence or a serious breach of proper professional standards or conduct.

‘We don’t take this responsibility lightly and realise that our decisions can sometimes be disappointing for complainants.’

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