Secrecy-creep.

by Anna Raccoon on April 20, 2011

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Just as we are digesting the news that our judiciary don’t want any scurrilous hacks or members of parliament commenting on their decisions, or investigating stories, especially not when they are listening to the pleas of Doctors who wish to dispose of their patients in a far from humane manner – the GMC, with impeccable timing, issues a press release.

In future, when Doctors despatch a patient prematurely whilst singing Rule Britannia and smoking a hookah pipe, or stitch the patient’s left arm onto someone else’s right leg, or are simply stark raving bonkers – the GMC don’t want the media to be able to report these allegations!

Who are we to know the reputation of the person to whom we entrust our body or mind? At the moment you can listen to these allegations, supported by witnesses, and even if, through some technicality, the Doctor is allowed to continue to practise, make your own decision as to whether to switch to another Doctor pronto.

Over the past ten years, the number of days on which the GMC have been forced to hold hearings has risen from 333 to 3,493 – that is now an average of one Doctor per working day whose patient has been forced to go through the onerous proceedings known as ‘making a complaint’.

The GMC believe that this “may give the false impression that a large proportion of doctors behave inappropriately”. It is, they say ‘too stressful’ for the Doctors.

So they are lobbying to be allowed to hold their hearings behind closed doors, presided over by other Doctors, and only announce the verdict, if the complaint is upheld, on the GMC web site.

Even the Newspaper Society has woken from its lengthy slumber and announced:

“Any publication on the [GMC] website describing the sanction accepted, description of issues put to the doctor and mitigation, supported by evidence taken into account, will be crafted by the GMC, not an independent account by independent, disinterested members of the public or the press who attended the proceedings and observed these in full.”

The onus is on the blogosphere more than ever to report facts from a local level and local knowledge, and get information out there in a responsible manner. The judiciary, the medical profession, and other bodies who hide behind a thin veneer of respectable ‘officialdom’ may succeed in muzzling the main stream media, but they will never silence the blogosphere.

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