An open letter to Professor MacEwen at the GMC

time to put your words into practice and end the witch hunt against doctors

Open letter to GMC: 28th June 2024

Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen, Chair, General Medical Council

Mr Charlie Massey, CEO, General Medical Council

Professor Philip Banfield, chairman of council, British Medical Association

Dr Jeanette Dickson, Chair of Council, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

Dear Professor MacEwen,

As you will be aware, we wrote to you in 2021 to express our concerns about doctors being pressured to advocate for Covid-19 vaccines, in situations where proper personalised informed consent was almost impossible. We published our letter and your very helpful reply which confirmed our understanding of GMC guidance on Decision making and consent, especially the first two of seven principles: 

  • One – All patients have the right to be involved in decisions about their treatment and care and be supported to make informed decisions if they are able. 
  • Two – Decision making is an ongoing process focused on meaningful dialogue: the exchange of relevant information specific to the individual patient.  

In addition to trying to give full information to our patients, we have also been placing our safety concerns in the public domain as part of Good Medical Practice requirements to speak out if seeing harm to patients. 

As well as our open letter, we have also written to you in support of several doctors reported to the GMC regarding their use of social media to highlight covid vaccine harms, with fitness to practise investigations based on ‘bringing the profession into disrepute’. This includes some who have been struck off, others who have had investigations spread over years and yet others who have lost their jobs. We are also aware of doctors who have been referred to occupational health services because their refusal to endorse government guidelines was construed as a sign of mental illness. A group of over 50 senior doctors and academics were referred in June 2021 by the Department of Health and Social Care to the Counter Disinformation Unit (CDU) following a fully referenced letter questioning covid vaccines for children. Far from bringing the profession into disrepute, many of these doctors have received overwhelming gratitude from the vaccine injured. 

In the wake of the contaminated blood scandal, we were very pleased to see your statement commenting robustly on  the importance of protecting whistleblowers. As you said, “There is extensive commentary within the report about the importance of speaking up about both mistakes and near misses and a cautionary note about the need to protect those who do so from detriment to their career.” You are also quoted saying, “We are of course aware that referrals to us are sometimes used to intimidate. This is completely unacceptable, has significant consequences for doctors’ wellbeing and puts the safety of patients at risk.” You said, “We’ve put a number of safeguards in place” and you committed to  assessing “whether further interventions are needed to prevent retaliatory or weaponised referrals.” 

You have “also seen investigative media reports alleging that a number of NHS managers have taken actions to silence whistleblowers, including threatening referral to the GMC.” One such report came from the Telegraph (15th May 2024), under the title “The four-step ‘playbook’ the NHS uses to break whistleblowers”.

It is notable that a recent BMA survey showed that the proportion of doctors being discouraged from or even afraid of speaking out has risen significantly between 2018 and 2024, to the point where 61% of those polled in 2024 said they may not raise concerns because they were “afraid” they or colleagues could be “unfairly blamed or suffer adverse consequences”. 

Medical censorship, whether externally enforced by social media platforms, by GMC investigations or by NHS managers, or whether self-inflicted as suggested by the BMA poll, lead to the same end result – a failure to properly investigate harms or advocate for patient choice or even patient safety. 

We urge you to implement the following actions:

  • That the GMC apply the same protection to whistleblowers reporting Covid-19 vaccine harms that you have rightly observed were missing decades ago in the contaminated blood scandal. 
  • To call a moratorium on all GMC investigations which do not arise directly from complaints about actual patient care. 

Yours sincerely

Dr Rosamond Jones, retired Consultant Paediatrician, convenor Children’s Covid Vaccines Advisory Council

Dr Ayiesha Malik, General Practitioner, co-founder, Doctors for Patients UK 

Dr Clare Craig, diagnostic pathologist, co-chair, Health Advisory and Recovery Team 

Dr Elizabeth Evans, retired doctor, CEO, UK Medical Freedom Alliance  

Professor Angus Dalgleish, MD, FRCP, FRACP, FRCPath, FMedSci, Emeritus Professor of Oncology, University of  London; Principal, Institute for Cancer Vaccines & Immunotherapy

Professor Anthony J Brookes, Professor of Genomics and Health Data Science, University of Leicester

Professor David Livermore, BSc, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Medical Microbiology, University of East Anglia

Professor John A Fairclough, BM BS, BMedSci, FRCS, FFSEM(UK), Professor Emeritus, Honorary Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Professor Martin Neil, BSc PhD, Professor of Computer Science and Statistics

Professor Roger Watson, FRCP Edin, FRCN, FAAN, Honorary Professor of Nursing, University of Hull

Lord Moonie, MBChB, MRCPsych, MFCM, MSc, retired member of House of Lords, former Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State 2001-2003, former Consultant in Public Health Medicine

Dr Alan Mordue, MBChB, FFPH, retired Consultant in Public Health Medicine & Epidemiology 

Dr Ali Ajaz, Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Alison Sabine, MBChB, MRCP, Consultant Rheumatologist

Dr Ancha Bala Joof, MBChB, MRCGP, General Practitioner

Dr Angela Musso, MD, MRCGP, DRCOG, FRACGP, MFPC, General Practitioner 

Dr Branko Latinkic, BSc, PhD, Reader in Biosciences

Dr Carmen Wheatley, DPhil, Orthomolecular Oncology

Dr Caroline Lapworth, MBChB, General Practitioner

Dr Cathy Greig, MBChB (hons), General Practitioner

Dr Charles Forsyth, MBBS, FFHom,  retired Integrative and Ecological Medicine Doctor

Dr Chris Newton, PhD, Biochemist working in immuno-metabolism

Dr Christopher Exley, PhD, FRSB, Bioinoganic Chemist

Dr Christina Peers, MBBS, DRCOG, DFSRH, FFSRH, Menopause Specialist

Dr Cordelia Phelan, Consultant Pathologist

Dr David Bell, MBBS, PhD, FRCP(UK), Public Health Physician

Dr David Cartland, MBChB, BMedSci, General Practitioner

Dr David Critchley, BSc, PhD, Clinical Pharmacologist, Children’s Covid Vaccines Advisory Council

Dr Dean Patterson, MBChB, FRCP, Consultant Cardiologist and General Physician

Dr Elizabeth Burton, MBChB, retired General Practitioner

Dr Emma Brierly, MBBS, MRCGP, General Practitioner

Dr Fatou Mbow, MD(Italy), MRCGP, DFFP, General Practitioner

Dr Felicity Lillingston, IMD DHS PhD ANP, Doctor, Urgent Care, Research Fellow

Dr Fiona Martindale, MBChB, MRCGP, General Practitioner 

Dr Geoffrey Maidment, MD, FRCP, retired Consultant Physician

Dr Gillian Breese, BSc, MB ChB, DFFP, DTM&H, General Practitioner

Dr Greta Mushet, MBChB, MRCPsych, retired Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy

Dr Helen Westwood, MBChB, MRCGP, DCH, DRCOG, General Practitioner

Dr Ian Bridges, MBBS, retired General Practitioner

Dr Jenny Goodman, MA, MBChB, Ecological Medicine

Dr Jessica Robinson, BSc(Hons), MBBS, MRCPsych, MFHom, Integrative Medicine Doctor

Dr Jon Rogers, MBChB(Bristol), MRCGP, DRCOG, Retired NHS General Practitioner

Dr Jonathan Eastwood, BSc, MBChB, MRCGP, General Practitioner

Dr Jonathan Engler, MBChB, LlB (Hons), DipPharmMed

Dr Keith Johnson, BA, DPhil (Oxon), IP Consultant for Diagnostic Testing

Dr Livia Tossici-Bolt, PhD, retired Clinical Scientist

Dr Magdalena Stasiak-Horkan, MBBS, DCH, MRCGP (2003-2017), General Practitioner 

Dr Marco Chiesa, MD, FRCPsych, Consultant Psychiatrist, Visiting Professor

Dr Mark A Bell, MBChB, MRCP(UK), FRCEM, Consultant in Emergency Medicine

Dr Matthew Dennison, MBBS, MRCGP, Dip IBLM, General Practitioner

Dr Michael Bazlinton, MBChB, MRCGP, DCH, General Practitioner

Dr Michael D Bell, MBChB, MRCGP, retired General Practitioner

Dr Noel Thomas, MA, MBChB, DObsRCOG, DTM&H, MFHom, Retired Doctor

Dr Peter Chan, BM, MRCS, MRCGP, NLP, General Practitioner, Functional medicine practitioner 

Dr Rachel Nicoll, PhD, Medical researcher

Dr Renee Hoenderkamp, MBBS, General Practitioner

Dr Richard House, PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, CertCouns, Chartered Psychologist, former senior lecturer in Psychology (Roehampton) and Early Childhood (Winchester), retired psychotherapist

Dr Richard J O’Shea, MBBCh, BA(Hons), MRCGP, General Practitioner

Dr Rohaan Seth, BSc(hons), MBChB (hons), MRCGP, Retired General Practitioner

Dr Roland Salmon, MBBS, MRCGP, FFPH, Former Director, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre Wales

Dr Salmaan Saleem, MBBS, BMedSci, RCGP(2019), co-founder Doctors for Patients UK

Dr Samuel White, MBChB, MRCGP, Functional Medicine Specialist, former General Practitioner

Dr Sarah Myhill, MBBS, Dip NM, retired GP, Independent Naturopathic Physician, UKMFA Director of Medical Ethics

Dr Scott McLachlan, Lecturer in Digital Technologies for Healthcare, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King’s College London

Dr Scott Mitchell, MBChB, MRCS, Associate Specialist, Emergency Medicine

Dr Stefanie Williams, MD, Dermatologist

Dr Tanya Klymenko, PhD, FHEA, FIBMS, Senior lecturer in Biomedical Sciences

Dr Timothy Kelly, MBBCh, BSc, NHS doctor and Systems Analyst

Gayle Gerry, BSc(Hons), RGN, NHS Registered Nurse

James Cook, Bachelor of Nursing (Hons), Master of Public Health (MPH), NHS Registered Nurse

Julie Annakin, RN, Immunisation Specialist Nurse

Kaira McCallum, BSc, retired pharmacist, Director of strategy UKMFA

Katherine MacGilchrist, BSc(Hons), MSc, CEO/Systematic Review Director, Epidemica Ltd

Marco Tullio Suadoni, RN, BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing, MSc, Specialist Palliative Care Lead

Mr Angus Robertson BSc (Med. Sci.) MB ChB  FRCS(Ed) FFSEM(UK) Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Mr Anthony Hinton, MBChB, FRCS, Consultant ENT Surgeon, London

Mr David Halpin, MB BS, FRCS , Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, retired 

Mr Ian F Comaish, MA, BM BCh, FRCOphth, FRANZCO, Consultant Ophthalmologist 

Mr Ian McDermott MB BS, MS, FRCS (Tr & Orth), FFSEM (UK), Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon | London Sports Orthopaedics, Honorary Professor Associate | Brunel University

Mr John Bunni, MBChB (Hons), Dip Lap Surg, FRCS [ASGBI Medal], Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon

Mr T James Royle, MBChB, FRCS, MMedEd, Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon

Natalie Stephenson, Audiologist

Sophie Gidet, RM,DTN, Midwife

Sorrel Scott, Physiotherapist

Rev Dr William J U Philip, MBChB, MRCP, BD, Senior Minister The Tron Church, Glasgow, formerly physician specialising in cardiology

Sue Parker Hall, CTA, MSc (Counselling & Supervision), MBACP, EMDR. Psychotherapist

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