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Top Doctor at NHS England Resigns Over Controversial Online Comments

Dr Arvind Madan

A senior doctor in the United Kingdom’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) was asked to resign for posting inflammatory comments about doctors on the internet under a pseudonym.

Dr Arvind Madan, one of the most senior general practitioners at the organization, quit as NHS England’s Director of Primary Care after more than 8,000 GPs across the country called for his resignation.

The controversy arose from a series of online comments that Madan posted under the pseudonym “Devil’s Advocate” in favor of closure of small medical practices in the country.

The Indian-origin doctor admitted on Aug. 5 that he was posting online comments in various articles of the Pulse Today medical journal for years under the pseudonym in order to create “a more balanced discussion” about contentious issues.

Madan, who has been working as a general practitioner in the United Kingdom for over 23 years, said in a statement that the comments were his attempts to challenge negative views and conspiracy theories, and were meant to “provoke a more balanced discussion.”

He also apologized to his colleagues for breaking their confidence, and added: “I wish to make it categorically clear that these comments are not a reflection of NHS England policy, and it is now clear to me that trying to move the debate on in this way is not compatible with my role as director of primary care.”

He added in the statement: “I also know that too many smaller practices are struggling, which is why I believe that working in collaboration with others in an integrated manner should form a key part of how we strengthen them and prevent practice closures.”

Madan’s online comments were discovered by readers when he posted clarifications on articles he had written using his real name, with his “Devils Advocate” pseudonym, the Independent reported.

His controversial comments included suggestions that GP practices should take some blame for a failure to recruit, and that “most businesses are pleased to see rationalization of providers,” Pulse Today reported. Other comments praised various NHS England policies or targeted doctors who spoke about workload and increasing costs.

Several general practitioners condemned Madan’s comments.

“We have 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,” Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, the Deputy Chairman of the GP Committee of the British Medical Association, said, the publication reported.

“The key revelation from the pseudonym postings, specifically his belief that individual GPs losing their practice, and their business, is not only necessary, but something he thinks should be welcomed, has severely compromised his integrity,” his letter said.