England’s most senior GP has resigned after admitting he posted anonymous comments on an online medical forum, reportedly under the user name “Devil’s Advocate”.
Dr Arvind Madan, director of primary care at NHS England, resigned after more than 8,000 GPS called for him to quit when he suggested GPs should be “pleased” with the closure of some small surgeries and said family doctors were overpaid.
In a statement, Madan, who has been a GP for 23 years, said his anonymous posts were done to “provoke a more balanced discussion about contentious issues”.
“As part of my attempts to challenge the negative views - and even conspiracy theories - held by a small vocal minority in the profession I posted on an anonymous online forum used by GPs,” he explained.
“It was never my intention to cause offence but rather to provoke a balanced discussion about contentious issues acting as a devil’s advocate.”
Madan went on to admit he had “lost the confidence” of his colleagues and apologised “unreservedly to those who have been upset, particularly in smaller practices”.
The magazine Pulse reported on Wednesday that Madan stood by comments he made online suggesting GPs should be “pleased” with the closure of some small GP surgeries. He had suggested there were “too many” small practices that struggled to meet patients needs.
In the same magazine, the group GP Survival – which represents 8,000 GPs -–had written an open letter called for Madan to resign as director of primary care.
The BBC reported that one Devil’s Advocate post on GP pay had said: “We can get 6 figure salaries for working 4 days a week 45 weeks a year without on call... run that past the general public and see how much sympathy you get.”
Madan said that small practices were struggling, which meant integrating them with others would prevent closures.
Smaller practices, he said, “serve a particularly vital role as a point of constancy in the lives of often very vulnerable patients”.
“The main focus of my work at NHS England has been to help design and deliver the General Practice Forward View,” Maden wrote.
“I remain convinced that, as it unfolds, it will form the foundation for transformation.
“I am proud of what we achieved so far, and sorry that I am unable to help see it through. However, I have immense confidence in the inspirational individuals I have had the privilege to work with at NHS England, who are dedicated to supporting general practice, and wider primary care.”
The British Medical Association (BMA) said Madan had “done the right thing” in offering his resignation.
Its GP committee deputy chairman Dr Mark Sanford-Wood told the, BBC: “We have today written to NHS England raising our concerns and demanding action after Dr Madan’s damaging comments caused significant anger amongst the profession at a time when GPs require support from NHS England.”