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A new BMJ Personal View claims that doctors should be more politically active in opposing decisions made by governments that could entail medical harm.
He points to recent examples in the UK -discontent regarding pensions and the NHS reforms and Greek doctors taking to the streets of Athens last year to demonstrate against austerity measures and the effect of these measures on healthcare, especially the increasing suicide rate and rationing of medicines.
A problem identified with getting exercised about politics and healthcare is because global capitalism is unopposed and is almost seen as the way of things but this ideology has perhaps contributed to marketisation performance management, the rise of managerialism and targets etc. He says:
“If we truly believe in putting patients first then we should be equally (if not more) motivated to be politically active when events impinge negatively on the population as a whole, to the detriment of health and wellbeing. We should learn from our Greek counterparts. Collectively, we are a respected and powerful force in society. We should be more outspoken as a body when we see funding for public services and welfare siphoned into a structural deficit that ultimately arose from an astronomical bailout for finance capital.... It is our duty to openly challenge those decisions that will cause mental and physical harm to the nation.” http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e6894
Should doctors do more to question politicians and the decisions they make? Is this what it means to be patient-centred? How are doctors different to other areas of public service? “Saving the NHS” is an tangible campaign but can we expect herds of doctors to protest and lobby on overtreatment or junk food, smoking, assisted dying?