Parliamentary attacks on the medical establishment are not rare these days. But few have the insight to berate the profession for its scientific ignorance as Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North and resident Commons medical science whizz, has done.

Last month he delivered a sharp, if little-noticed, speech on doctors that argued that scientifically-illiterate GPs would be made extinct by technological progress unless their 'fossilised, ghettoised' training was 'fundamentally altered'.

Essentially, he argued that a class-ridden, hierarchical medical establishment had failed to train GPs to cope with the cultural and political impact of progress in genetics, developments in information technology, and environmental factors such as global warming.

'The changes required to equip doctors to function effectively in the 21st century must be radical rather than additions to the existing formula. There is serious resistance from the medical establishment to changes in a well-established system,' he said.

He called for an interdisciplinary approach in which doctors are taught genetics, technology, economics, ethics, public health and health management, often alongside social workers, managers and health visitors. It was a bold speech - and not just because it contained a cheeky plug for his former employers, the University of East Anglia, which hopes to be chosen as the site of a new medical school.

It also had a fierce anti-establishment undercurrent. He has had first- hand knowledge of the medical hierarchy in action while sitting on consultant appointment boards in East Anglia.

His experience of a system which considered the suitability of candidates' wives or the doctors' accents - 'there are social graces which predominate that are not in the job description' - has left him predictably jaundiced.

'So much of what doctors are trained in is a waste of time. The idea is to break down the hierarchy. That is the battle for the next 100 years, to ensure they are not brought up to think they are God Almighty,' he says.

The former head of cancer studies and dean of biological sciences at UEA, the Dumfries-born Edinburgh educated Dr Gibson was elected in 1997 aged 58, although he did not formally quit academia until last summer.

An old but not hide-bound lefty, and fanatical Norwich City football club supporter, he chairs the all-party parliamentary group on cancer, and he will launch a campaign in the new year calling for the setting up of a National Cancer Institute.

He's unhappy with the way the NHS has responded to the Calman-Hine programme for cancer care, and feels an institute is the only way to ensure that good practice is spread evenly across the UK.

But he also believes that science will make a difference in combating the disease. 'We are on the edge of lots of big discoveries. It's likely we will win Nobel prizes in this area pretty soon.'