Banerjee case highlights institutional corruption in medicine

November 21, 2002

The finding by the General Medical Council that Mr Anjan Kumar Banerjee and Professor Timothy John Peters were guilty of serious professional misconduct for research fraud committed a decade earlier is not just a case of one doctor covering up for another but of corruption at a senior level in academic institutions, argues Consultant Cardiologist, Peter Wilmshurst in this week's BMJ.

He describes how senior academics and managers at King's College, the University of London, and the Royal College of Surgeons concealed serious professional misconduct by doctors for a decade. These institutions are among the bodies that directly appoint non-elected members to the GMC.

Some were aware that Banerjee had falsified his research but failed to bring this to the attention of the GMC, the funding bodies, or the journal that had published the falsified research. Others allowed Banerjee to gain a qualification and an honour dishonestly.

The case of Banerjee and Peters is not an isolated one, writes the author. "I am aware of other cases under investigation by the GMC in which academic institutions, which appoint members to the GMC, refused to cooperate with the GMC's investigations into research fraud and other forms of misconduct by doctors employed in their institutions."

It is difficult to believe that the decision not to cooperate with the GMC is made at a junior level, he adds. It seems likely that in some cases appointed members of the GMC are involved in the decision of their institution not to cooperate with the GMC's inquiries.

At a time when there is restructuring at the GMC, the role of GMC members needs to be considered, he concludes.


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