A reaction to Dignity in Dying’s shocking new film

  Wow! Dignity in Dying’s [DiD] new film is powerful and upsetting.  It has been produced for maximum pathos and  - I choose this word carefully – horror. The skittish cuts, the unnatural angles, these interwoven with the scene of a regretful daughter who is explaining to her son how his Grandad died. She lies,... Continue Reading →

Above and beyond: a story

The NHS relies on its staff going ‘above and beyond’. Compliment letters from patients and relatives often refer to this quality in nurses or doctors; the extra effort, the small acts of care or kindness that are not required, but which make a big difference. At an organisational level, good and safe care often does... Continue Reading →

Moral injury in doctors – an exploration

    'Moral injury' is now the preferred term for burnout. And burnout is not going away. A recent GMC burnout survey found that over 60% of  trainee respondents felt it 'somewhat', 'to a high degree' or a 'very high degree'. Professor Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians, headlined with the term... Continue Reading →

Autonomy and the changing self: commentary on ‘Patient Undone’

  I was immediately drawn to Deborah Bowman’s Radio 4 programme on how her approach to medical ethics changed during her own experience with breast cancer. It was her ‘undoing, personally and professionally’. By this she means that the certainties that had guided her as a professor of medical ethics, as a teacher, were upended... Continue Reading →

After Bawa-Garba: the principle of shared responsibility

  The case had been rekindled in the minds of many this week for two reasons. Firstly, Hadiza Bawa-Garba has been allowed back to work, and secondly, court transcripts have become available. Excerpts from these have been Tweeted to counter several ‘myths’ or received facts such as ‘it was her first day back from maternity... Continue Reading →

The banned list

Does language always reveal underlying attitudes? Do lazy words confirm lazy thinking? These questions were asked when, some time ago, I entered into an ultimately fractious debate with an ED doctor who had 'banned' certain words and phrases in the department where he worked. I reacted to the list, as I thought it was overly... Continue Reading →

In defense of the single-issue consultation

I was struck this week by a sign in a GP surgery (seen on-line) that explicitly encouraged, or instructed, patients to stick to one complaint only. This seems contrary to every holistic instinct, to patient-centred care; perhaps it is inimical to good medicine. Yet it is a tendency I notice in myself, as a hospital... Continue Reading →

Soulful yet soulless: Henry Marsh’s ‘Admissions’

For me, Admissions illustrates a great tension that exists in medicine. The need to feel, to be sensitive, to be humane, versus the need to be impervious to tragedy and move on to the next case. In describing his work in three countries (UK, Nepal, Ukraine), and the many successes and failures inherent in neurosurgery,... Continue Reading →

The limits of kindness: a patient with ‘pseudo’ seizures

Twelve years ago. A hospital at night. 9PM, and the night shift has started. My raggedy handover list contains many jobs; patients to review, “sickies” to keep an eye on, a chest drain to perform. At 9.30PM the bleep goes off - ‘fast’ bleep. Not a full crash call, but I need to rush. The... Continue Reading →

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