The following letter beckoning Sir Liam Donaldson's resignation has been signed and delivered to their MPs by ten programme directors:
"Dear Member of Parliament,
We are writing to you as we believe that the time has come for the current Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, to resign or be sacked from his position. His opinion no longer carries any weight in the medical profession given how appallingly he has helped to design and implement Modernising Medical Careers.
We don't mean to be uncharitable, there are some things that Sir Liam Donaldson can be genuinely proud of in his tenure- his work to bring a ban on smoking in public spaces and on patient safety are to be commended.
However, it is his work on the training of doctors which has so outraged colleagues, specifically the controversial scheme Modernising Medical Careers.
Sir Liam should take the advice of the Daily Telegraph (19th July 2007)- "Well, he's clearly not listening to the doctors or he'd know that, in this conflict, it is the public who have the most to lose. Perhaps he should ask himself how he'd like to be remembered: as a government stooge or as a doctor who really did uphold the best interests of patients."
Some quotes from him over the last year show just how out of touch he has been with reality. In an interview with the British Medical Journal(BMJ) (21/10/2006) about the training of junior doctors he said:"So there were big problems with the old system. We think there are going to be many fewer problems with the new system, it won't be perfect but it is attempting to iron out very longstanding difficulties with what was becoming a very outmoded way of training and education."
In April 2007, he stated in the BMJ, "Sir George Godber, one of my predecessors. A giant of his time. He mastered the three qualities needed by a good CMO; the ability to command the confidence of ministers, the skill to negotiate the complexities of Whitehall, and the gift of communication. Finally, he was a man of great integrity. If people do not trust you, you are lost."
In May 2006, Sir Liam told the House of Commons Health Select Committee that "My own view is that I do not really accept the assessment that there is an oversupply of doctors." On 15th November, again at the Health Select Committee, he denied that there was a problem of doctor supply, yet admitted that the Department of Health had not yet worked through the implications of the Court of Appeal action ruling that the DoH's action over overseas doctors with HSMP visa status were illegal even though we are less than 2 months away from the next round of applications.
Yet, Prof Alan Crockard, former national lead for MMC, in his resignation letter earlier this year stated "From my point of view, this project has lacked clear leadership from the top for a very long time".
In April of this year 99% of 400 UK neurologists polled voted against the principles of MMC in a debate at the Association of British Neurologists meeting.
All doctors we have spoken to appear to back a full implementation of Sir John Tooke's review into MMC, but we remain doubtful that such a full implementation will take place when one of the main architect's of MMC remains in charge. Although implementation of the Tooke review will not solve the problems of significant doctor over-supply (which Sir Liam remains in denial over), it will be a good start to restore confidence.
To recite Sir Liam himself "If people do not trust you, you are lost."We do not trust him, he is lost, it is time for him to go."
It is indeed time to go Liam, the profession has seen your true colours and it is now time for you to acknowledge this by resigning. Patients and doctors would benefit from a Chief Medical Officer who represented their interests, and not the interests of politicians. We sorely need a change of leadership before it is too late.