Conduct on protests could damage your medical career

GPC and BMA leaders have warned registrars and medical students that unruly conduct on marches could affect their fitness to practise in the future.

The comments follow a huge student demonstration in London last week over increasing tuition fees. Violence flared sporadically during the day, with protesters occupying Conservative party headquarters and smashing a number of windows.

Hundreds of medical students were among the 50,000 people on the march but were not involved in the clashes, according to the BMA.

Alex Smallwood, chairman of the GPC Registrars sub-committee, said it was ‘understandable’ that future GPs may protest passionately but they must consider their career.

‘But you must always remember your actions can have far-reaching consequences,’ he said.

‘It wouldn’t be right for any medic to make use of anything other than peaceful protest. ‘Anything else shows a level of immaturity that wouldn’t be becoming of a doctor.’

GMC guidance clearly states that student misdemeanours at university may be passed on to the GMC if they are of a nature that may affect their fitness to practice.  

The guidance says: ‘It must be made clear to students that the GMC will consider any issue that calls their fitness to practise into question. This includes anything that happened before or during their undergraduate years, and any decisions made by a fitness to practise panel or university.’

Karin Purshouse, chairwoman of the BMA’s medical students committee, said there was a large turnout of students from medical schools all around the country, some dressed in scrubs.

The BMA fears changes to the maximum fees universities can charge could leave future doctors with debts of up to £70,000 after medical training.

'Medicine already has a low intake of people from low-income families and this will only get worse,’ said Mr Purshouse. Medicine should be about peoples’ ability, not their ability to pay,’ she said.

Ms Purshouse added that BMA students ‘would obviously not condone any violence. ‘There were 51,000 students and that’s from a small minority,' she said.

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