Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The GMC and social media

Thanks to the ever-wonderful xkcd for this

The General Medical Council claims its purpose is "to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine". There are more than 250,000 doctors on the list of registered medical practitioners, each paying a significant annual fee to the GMC. It would be nice if the results of this could be seen in published dramatic and substantial patient safety research, although sadly that's not the case.

The GMC this year published guidance for doctors on the use of social media. It helpfully explained what social media was, to aid the less technogically-savvy doctor (just in case a consultant thought the Twitter app on his new phone was a 'to-do' list to enter confidential patient information into and keep it safe, I assume), and also offered this spectacular piece of guidance:

17 If you identify yourself as a doctor in publicly accessible social media, you should also identify yourself by name. Any material written by authors who represent themselves as doctors is likely to be taken on trust and may reasonably be taken to represent the views of the profession more widely.

I suspect that it is purely coincidental that a lot of anonymously-written and excellent blogs within the blogosphere often criticised the healthcare establishment, whether that be short-term thinking feeding governmental interference in the system, or the GMC's laboured, prolonged and continued response to a rogue Hyde GP playing God for decades. I cannot for the life of me imagine any reason why an organisation would create guidance purely to silence its critics.

Whatever the reasoning behind this guidance, it has led to a dramatic decline in the number of anonymously-written medical blogs from the UK. Some have hung up their witty handles and publicly declared themselves, some have simply stopped writing, whilst some are retired, have little to fear from our erstwhile and conscientious regulators and therefore couldn't care less.

This blog has been neglected for some time now. Well, probably since conception. However, the correct way to counter oppression is to fight it directly, and I have been trained that blowing whistles is an honourable thing, but putting your name at the end of that whistle is a death knell for one's career. This means that I could continue to write as a junior doctor and remain anonymous, but this would mean breaching paragraph 17.

I'd therefore like to declare that I choose not to identify myself as a doctor. To be honest, this is the internet, and so even if I claimed to be a doctor, I probably wouldn't be, or I'd be one of those crazy people who thinks homeopathy is scientifically valid. I shall therefore leave my daytime (and often night-time) occupation to your imagination. Any connection between the views expressed on this blog and the views of the medical profession as a whole are purely coincidental.

I hope that clarifies things. In the meantime, I might as well start blogging again, given that no-one else seems to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment