This paper was published as Journal of Health Organization and Management, 2010, 24 (6), pp. 540-555. It is available from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=1477-7266&volume=24&issue=6. Doi: 10.1108/14777261011088647Metadata only entryPurpose – This paper aims to outline and comment on the changes to medical regulation in the UK that provide the background to a special issue of the Journal of Health Organization and Management on regulating doctors. \ud Design/methodology/approach – This paper takes the form of a review. \ud Findings – Although the UK medical profession enjoyed a remarkably stable regulatory structure for most of the first 150 years of its existence, it has undergone a striking transformation in the last decade. Its regulatory form has mutated from one of state-sanctioned collegial self-regulation to one of state-directed bureaucratic regulation. The erosion of medical self-regulation can be attributed to: the pressures of market liberalisation and new public management reforms; changing ideologies and public attitudes towards expertise and risk; and high profile public failures involving doctors. The “new” UK medical regulation converts the General Medical Council into a modern regulator charged with implementing policy, and alters the mechanisms for controlling and directing the conduct and performance of doctors. It establishes a new set of relationships between the medical profession and the state (including its agencies), the public, and patients. \ud Originality/value – This paper adds to the literature by identifying the main features of the reforms affecting the medical profession and offering an analysis of why they have taken place
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