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When a doctor makes a public statement about a medical issue, we expect them to tell the truth and not mislead people. They have a professional responsibility to ensure the advice they give reflects the scientific evidence.
The UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) investigates doctors whose behaviour appears to have fallen below what we might reasonably expect of them. But it appears to have decided not to investigate doctors who spread vaccine misinformation – that is, statements which over-emphasise the harms of vaccines and under-emphasise their benefits.
Vaccine misinformation is misleading and potentially dangerous, especially when directed at groups who are at increased risk of harm from covid-19, such as pregnant women. When medical doctors lend their professional authority to that misinformation, their statements can be influential. This could cause members of the public to believe in dangerous fake science, and erode public trust in the medical profession.
We are a small group of individual doctors working with Good Law Practice, the not for profit law firm set up by Good Law Project, to require the GMC to investigate doctors who deliberately share vaccine misinformation on social media and more widely. We are bringing the case because we believe the GMC must fulfill its obligations to protect the public from misinformation. We have chosen to remain anonymous to reduce the risk of personal abuse.
We have written to the GMC asking it to deliver on its main obligation – to protect the public.
A doctor has, on behalf of a wider group of doctors, written to the GMC asking it to investigate a regulated doctor for repeatedly making statements about COVID-19 vaccines that are factually inaccurate, misleading and potentially harmful. You can read that letter here.
The doctors believe that the GMC’s refusal so far to open an investigation breaches its legal obligations. If the GMC continues to refuse to act we plan to sue it.
The sums raised, net of processing fees, will be used to meet our legal costs. If for some reason we don’t spend all the money on this case the surplus will be allocated by the doctors to other litigation to protect the NHS.
We are delighted to announce that the High Court has granted permission to proceed with the legal challenge . The hearing is due to be listed for 1 day in 2024.