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Academic challenged to debate over 'GPs obsolete' comments

The chair of the royal college of GPs in Wales has challenged a university academic to debate his comments that 'GPs are obsolete'.

Credit: PA Images

The comments by Gerry Holtham, Hodge professor of regional economy at Cardiff Metropolitan University, were first reported by WalesOnline, in an article looking at the Welsh Economy.

In the article, Mr Holtham said: “I think we’ve got to say, ‘look, we don’t need GPs. GPs are obsolete’. A computer program, it’s been proven, will diagnose 98% of ailments better than a GP because, a) it’s up to date and b) it doesn’t forget anything.

“So I would employ nurses in health centres, with a computer program and a phone line to a specialist.”

Dr Payne has challenged Mr Holtham's comments

These views have been met with outrage from the GP community and have prompted the Chair of the Royal College of GPs in Wales, Dr Rebecca Payne to write an open letter to Mr Holtham, challenging him to debate the issues.

In the letter, posted on Twitter, Dr Payne writes: "You won't be surprised to hear that I disagree with your comments." She adds: "I suggest we debate these issues further in an evening debate at the University."

Dr Payne's views are shared by Dr Charlotte Jones from the British Medical Association in Wales. She tweeted that the comments were an "absolute disgrace".

Credit: Twitter/Charlotte Jones

The Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething AM, also weighed in, saying Mr Holtham is "just plain wrong".

Credit: Twitter/Vaughan Gething

The University is committed to upholding academic freedom of speech and fully supports Professor Holtham’s right to undertake research and express his views. The University is a place of innovative, often challenging, thinking that will inevitably spark further discussion and debate.

– Cardiff Metropolitan University spokesperson