Re: GMC admits error in decision over whether to investigate doctor’s claims over covid vaccine

I Agree

Dear Editor

The fact that Dr Malhotra has views on the role of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine and its relationship to cardiac illness and death which go against the prevailing orthodoxy should not be an area which the GMC should be adjudicating on.

There are very complex arguments on both sides of this divide – particularly in relation to restricting freedom of speech. There is clearly an argument that the GMC can act based on its overarching objective as a regulator. The problem is that this conflicts with professional autonomy and decision-making and may penalize doctors who disagree with the prevailing scientific consensus. The current processes of how the GMC determines whether a medical professional has moved away from the accepted standards (for example if their fitness to practice is impaired or deficient) is adjudicated by the Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service (MPTS) which is a quasi-judicial process – with both sides being represented by barristers. So, where the scientific consensus is contested it will be difficult to prove. This might explain the reluctance of the GMC to act in such instances. I would be worried if the GMC became the arbiter of standards – it does not help when some have argued that its processes are subject to allegations of discrimination. An overzealous regulator can stifle dissent and if their view prevailed, then the GMC would be the arbiter of the contestability of scientific evidence.

The problem with COVID-19 vaccination is not only the impact that medical professionals who are opposed to vaccination have on encouraging vaccine hesitancy but also that many of these professionals fall within a wide spectrum of dissent from absolute vaccine deniers to those who objected to the compulsion that was initially used to make people take vaccines. Who is going to be the arbiter of what qualifies as acceptable dissent. I certainly hope it will not be the GMC.

No competing Interests: 
No competing interests
The following competing Interests: 
I am an Associate Medical Tribunal Member of the Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service
Electronic Publication Date: 
Monday, February 26, 2024 – 09:16
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Re: GMC admits error in decision over whether to investigate doctor’s claims over covid vaccine

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School of Health Sciences, Universtity of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL
Professor (Emeritus) of General Practice
University of Manchester
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