Forget the old days of medical officers of health

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6969.1659d (Published 17 December 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1659
  1. Rachel Jewkes
  1. Senior registrar in public health medicine, Health Promotion Sciences Unit, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT.

    EDITOR,—Stephen J Watkins advocates a return to public health paternalism, from which, thankfully, the specialty has begun to move in recent years.1 Despite his assertion that public health doctors cannot work with “arbitrarily defined populations” in the same way as they can with “communities,” the community that holds centre stage in the article is one based on the boundaries of local government—a clear example of boundaries that are not defined by the population within them.

    More careful analysis of the text shows that this reflects the fact that the community that has …

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