Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dame Janet slams docs again

Ho hum.

Dame Janet Smith is perturbed by the lack of progress shown by the Government over her recommendations after Harold Shipman's crimes.

Talk about tarring everyone with the same brush...

She made this comment: "There are doctors who still think that everything is fine and that there is no need for change. There are still those who think Shipman was a one-off villain."

Well, wasn't he? Is there any evidence that there are more mega-serial killers in the current medical workforce? No?

Thought not.

I do think that some of the changes she has proposed in one of her many reports are sensible: the proposals about changing death certification and cremation administration; the need for a system to ensure doctors' skills remain up to date; her criticism of the GMC's procedures for monitoring doctors (although that led to the GMC embarking on disciplinary proceedings when perhaps it should not have).

But it seems to me and I suspect many of my colleagues that she would rather have us all shot. That would certainly prevent any more Shipman's.

But there are other things about her rampant anti-doctor attitude that concern me more. I can't help but wonder how many patients have been left in unnecessary pain because doctors have been concerned that adequate pain relief may result in an earlier demise than might otherwise have been the case and that that demise may then be subject to vexatious scrutiny. Certainly I've been aware of a lot more post-operative patients are being discharged by surgeons with simple, less powerful analgesics. Perhaps they don't need anything stronger. Palliative care also feels a lot more defensive in the last few years, or perhaps cautious would be a better word.

Perhaps this caution is for the best. Perhaps doctors do need more monitoring to ensure public safety. But I certainly came in to this career because I wanted to help people through their lives, from beginning to end. I suspect the same is true for most of my colleagues. Dame Janet's viciously negative attitude does nothing to help avoid another Shipman. It just makes doctors feel vulnerable and defensive and that cannot be good for patients.


Anonymous said...

It is very tedious how many of you doctors are so defensive and inward looking. Shipman was not a one off in the sense that there will be (and have been) others who exhibit criminal behaviour which threatens patients, and the GMC is not fit to deal with them

Russell Brown said...

Oh please...

It may be tedious in your humble and anonymous opinion, but read my post again.

You've agreed with me about the GMC not being fit for purpose. And to reiterate, where is the evidence for anymore (recent) medical serial killers? Shipman was a murderer who happened to be a doctor and who used his position to commit his crimes. He was not a murderer because he was a doctor.

If you want to criticise my opinions, at least have the honesty to leave your name. Otherwise, no further communication will be entered into, and you won't get any more comments puiblished either.

Put up or shut up.

kelly said...

Shipman's crimes were directly linked to his position as a doctor. He thrived on his abuse of power, authority etc. It was his very being a doctor that gave him the motivation to kill. Just as a financial expert is well placed to commit fraud, Shipman's profession gave him the power and position to kill - but more than that: the interest to do it. His being a doctor was in no way incidental to his crimes.

Russell Brown said...

Kelly: I agree with your first 2 sentences. I disagree with the third in the sense that there has not been anything to show that his becoming a doctor induced him to kill. Rather, as you intimate in your fourth, he used his position to facilitate his crimes. Given his obvious psycopathy, I suspect he became a doctor because it gave him a "power-trip".

Mind you, I'm no shrink!

The tone of your comment however would suggest that all doctors are motivated to kill by virtue of being doctors. That is patent nonsense.

Whether Shipman became a doctor to kill people or whether he used his position to facilitate it, there is no way one can say that his being a doctor gave him the motivation for killing. Likewise being a financial adviosr doesn't automatically make you a fraudster: some people take advantage of their position, but its not the position that makes them do it, its who they are.

(And assuming you're the previously anonymous poster, at least we have a name, if not a profile...)

Simon Bandy said...

...and I thought there were plenty of killers who weren't doctors!!

If the number of doctors is directly relatable to the number of murders, then we don't need to recruit any more doctors into the NHS, because eventually there will be more doctors than patients!

Great might as well stop making my NI contributions now :)

kellyy said...

Shipman perverted his expertise - but his expertise was an intrinsic element of the crimes he committed. To suggest that he was a murderer who just happened to be a doctor is plain wrong.

Karl Francis said...

No profession, job or walk of life is free from a criminal element. Why should they be, crime is part of the human condition, as is greed, and psychopathology.
To suggest that being a doctor is the cause of crime or psychopathology is no more rational then belief that crop circles are indicative of alien abductions.
That is not to say that we shouldn't do all we can to detect and prevent it, especially in a trusted profession such as the medical profession ( or politics I would suggest ).
The real question is, does Dame Janet's input help or not? I would say that some of her recommendations help and virtually all of her comments are destructive.

janet cooper said...

Even in this day and age, there is still very much an arrogance amongst many doctors with an "us and them" attitude and when "push comes to shove", they close ranks!

Do members of other professions 'investigate' themselves for misconduct? How can self-investigation ensure neutrality?