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England's top GP resigns over imflammatory online comments

Published on 06/08/18 at 10:29am

England’s most senior General Practitioner and Director of Primary Care and Deputy Medical Director at NHS England has resigned over inflammatory comments he made anonymously on an online medical forum.

Dr Arvind Madan, who posted under the name “Devli’sAdvocate”, was found to have made a number of contentious statements, such as: “We can get 6 figure salaries for working 4 days a week, 45 weeks a year. Run that past the general public and see how much sympathy you get”, and the assertion that GP’s should be “pleased” by the closure of small practices.

After it was determined by other doctors that Dr Madan had authored the messages, the British Medical Association (BMA) wrote to NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens “demanding action”. Dr Mark Sanford Wood, BMA GP Committee Deputy Chair, wrote: "His damaging comments have caused significant anger from the profession at a time when GPs require support from NHS England. 

"The key revelation from the pseudonym postings, specifically his belief that individual GPs losing their practice, and their business, is not only necessary, but something he thinks should be welcomed, has severely compromised his integrity…We feel that posting under a pseudonym in this way is unacceptable for someone in his position and urge you to ask him to consider whether he can continue as Director of Primary Care for NHS England having lost the confidence of the profession."

But NHS England maintained that Dr Madan offered to resign even before the letter from the BMA had been sent. The letter also followed GP Survival, a group representing 8,000 GPs, petitioned for Dr Madan’s resignation.

Once outed, Dr Madan admitted he had written the messages, arguing that he had done so to provoke debate on difficult issues in the healthcare system.

"It is clear to me that, sadly, I have lost the confidence of some of my colleagues, and I have therefore decided to resign my NHS England position.

“As part of my attempts to challenge the negative views – and even conspiracy theories – held by a small but vocal minority in the profession I posted on an anonymous online forum used by GPs. It was never my intention to cause offence but rather to provoke a more balanced discussion about contentious issues acting as a devil’s advocate.

“I wish to make it categorically clear that these comments are not a reflection of NHS England policy, and it is now clear to me that trying to move the debate on in this way is not compatible with my role as Director of Primary Care. Supporting general practice is too important an issue to allow it to be mired in unnecessary controversy.”

Matt Fellows

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