New Chair of the General Medical Council

Dame Clare Marx has been appointed by the Privy Council as the new Chair of the General Medical Council (GMC) to succeed Professor Sir Terence Stephenson in January 2019. She becomes the first woman to hold the Chair since the GMC was established 160 years ago.

Dame Clare joins a growing body of women leaders in healthcare. She is the immediate Past President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Elected in 2014 for three years, she was the first woman in the history of the College to hold this role. She worked as an orthopaedic surgeon at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust for over 20 years before becoming Associate Medical director for appraisal and revalidation in 2013. Clare is also currently the Chair of the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management and will demit from that role at the end of this year.

Clare chaired the Trauma and Orthopaedic Specialist Advisory Committee for the Royal College of Surgeons when the new trauma and orthopaedic surgery curriculum was written. In 2008-09, she was President of the British Orthopaedic Association and whilst on the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons chaired the Invited Review Mechanism from 2011-14.

She will stand down with immediate effect as Chair of the independent review of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide in medicine, which was commissioned by the GMC in February 2018. 

The independent review working group will now be chaired by Leslie Hamilton, a current member who was a cardiac surgeon for 25 years, spending 16 years as a consultant paediatric surgeon. He now works as a medical expert in clinical negligence cases and a specialist advisor at the Care Quality Commission.

"I am delighted that Dame Clare has been appointed as the next Chair. She joins the GMC at a critical time, where an ambitious programme of work is underway. I am confident that the wealth of experience she brings from her previous roles will be invaluable to seeing this work through successfully as the GMC continues its work to protect patients by maintaining and improving standards in medical practice."

Charlie Massey

Chief executive

Leslie gave evidence to the Bristol Inquiry – the investigation into the deaths of 29 infants undergoing heart surgery at the Bristol Royal infirmary in the late 1980s and early 1990s – and co-authored the Clinical Case Note Review. As President of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery from 2008 – 2010, Leslie was also an invited member of the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons and was closely involved in the publication of surgical outcomes data for Cardiac Surgeons.

Responding to the announcement the GMC’s Chief Executive, Charlie Massey said: 

‘I am delighted that Dame Clare has been appointed as the next Chair. She joins the GMC at a critical time, where an ambitious programme of work is underway. I am confident that the wealth of experience she brings from her previous roles will be invaluable to seeing this work through successfully as the GMC continues its work to protect patients by maintaining and improving standards in medical practice. 

‘In particular Dame Clare will play a vital role in driving forward our new strategy, which shifts the emphasis of our work from acting when things have gone wrong to continued support for all doctors in the delivery of the highest standards of care.

‘I would also like to thank Professor Sir Terence Stephenson, who has guided the GMC as Chair for the last four years, not to mention his previous work as a member of Council.’ 

Dame Clare said: 

‘It is a great honour to be appointed as the next Chair of the GMC. In the 70th year of the NHS and at a watershed moment for a profession under intense pressure, I look forward to leading GMC’s Council and working with health partners across the UK in protecting patients by supporting doctors. 

‘I have stepped down with immediate effect from leading the independent review of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide in medicine before it makes any conclusions or recommendations for the GMC and other bodies. In this way the review will continue to be one which is truly independent.’

Leslie Hamilton said:

‘It is a big responsibility but a real privilege to be asked to lead the independent review of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide in medicine. 

‘I hope that my experience as a surgeon will stand me in good stead in leading this important work as the group embarks on engagement with doctors and other stakeholders across the UK.’

Dame Clare was appointed following a competitive recruitment process. The selection panel was made up of two current members of the GMC’s Council and three individuals independent of the GMC and government. They were responsible for making recommendations for the appointment to the Privy Council, which approved the decision. All stages of the recruitment process were managed by GatenbySanderson.

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