GMC needs a dose of this doctor's courage

Peter Hitchens

The Mail on Sunday, Jan 30, 2005

JAYNE DONEGAN is a conscientious and thoughtful London doctor whom I would be glad to have as my GP. Yet the General Medical Council is investigating her for alleged Serious Professional Misconduct-Has she killed a patient? Removed the wrong leg? No-Her offence was to give evidence in a court case. You may remember the one. TWO mothers didn't want their children to have the MMR The fathers did. Dr Donegan, & sceptic about vaccinations in general, tried to show that it was reasonable for the mothers to have doubts.

She had not appeared as an expert witness before and admits that it wasn't a polished performance. Nobody is suggesting she lied. She was attacked, in my view most unfairly, by a judge who called her testimony 'junk science'.

You would have thought that it was enough to lose your case and be publicly thwacked by a High Court judge. But I sense that the GMC is persecuting Dr Donegan because they want to please the Government and the Establishment. Her real offence, as a doctor, was to voice doubts about the sacred MMR. Doctors aren't supposed to breach the party line about this.

I suspect that the GMC is also afraid that the Government --pretending that Harold Shipman was typical rather than a freak -will take away its independence if it does not grovel to the authorities in this way. Memo to the GMC: Independence is gamed and kept by courage, not by servility. By the way, it is now 33 weeks since I asked Gordon Brown if his son is having the MMR. Still no answer.