Doctors' leaders' have launched a passionate defence of the profession after admittting that a series of high-profile scandals has dented patient trust.

Opening the British Medical Association's annual representative meeting, chair of council Dr Ian Bogle said: 'This has been a terrible year, ' referring to the Bristol, Alder Hey, Shipman and Ledward scandals. And he admitted 'there will be more' because detection of poor practice was getting better. But he said the scandals were evidence of 'transparency in action'.

Dr Bogle said the public and the government had to 'distinguish the evil acts of a murderer who happened to be a doctor, from the protection of patients from under-performing doctors' and said that to 'punish the many for the acts of the few would be an act of folly'.

Dr Bogle stressed that the BMA was in favour of revalidation for doctors, although he said it was concerned about some of the details of the scheme put forward by the General Medical Council. Doctors meeting in London are due to debate a motion of no confidence in the GMC today, with the main criticism being its revalidation plans.

Earlier in the week doctors welcomed the government's promise of additional funds for the NHS, but expressed concern about how the money would be spent. Speakers repeatedly called for the money to be spent on more hospital beds, more doctors and improved morale rather than 'consumerist' and short-term political objectives.

They insisted that government demands to increase out-of-hours availability of GPs for routine matters must be accompanied by increased funding for primary care staff.

Junior doctors also persuaded the BMA to call for the resignation of the president of the Royal College of Obstretricians and Gynaecologists, Professor Robert Shaw, unless he withdraws his support for controversial proposals to create a sub-consultant specialist grade.

Dr Fiona Kew said such a move would be 'a licence for abuse'.