A DH consultation on changes to the constitution orders of the GMC and the General Dental Council (GDC) proposed reducing the number of GMC council members from 24 (12 lay members and 12 medical members) to eight. The consultation also proposed moving from a system of an appointed rather than elected chairman.
In a report on the consultation, the DH said it had decided to cut the council to 12 members and to go ahead with the move to an appointed chairman.
Both the BMA and the RCGP disagreed in part with the proposals. According to a DH report on the consultation, the RCGP and the BMA were both concerned ‘that an appointment process could be politically motivated and would consequently lose the confidence of the profession’.
The BMA also disagreed with plans to cut the size of the GMC council. GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the BMA was concerned that a reduction in council members would reduce the number of doctors sitting on the GMC.
‘We did have concerns that it further reduces the professionally led regulation of the GMC.’ Dr Vautrey argued that it was unfair of the government to ask doctors to pay for regulation that was no longer professionally led.
‘The question is why are doctors having to pay and not the government?’
The DH report said: ‘We believe that any changes required to governance structures as a result of smaller councils could in fact bring about the very benefits of more board-like strategically focussed councils which the reduction is intended to deliver. However on balance, our view is that we should reduce the GMC and GDC’s councils to 12.’
The DH also disagreed with BMA and RCGP concerns regarding an appointed rather than elected chairman. The report said: ‘The department…agrees with the majority view and believes that moving to a system of appointment for the chair will ensure an open and impartial recruitment process.’
Responding to the changes GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘This is an historic change. The council plays a critical role in setting the strategic direction for the GMC, as well as making sure that we are properly managed and that we fulfil our statutory role of protecting the public and ensuring proper standards of medicine.
‘Building on the excellent work of this council, the reconstituted council of 12 members will drive forward the GMC’s ambitious programme of work for the next four years.'