Personal Views

The Child B case–reflections of a chief executive

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 21 June 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1838
  1. Stephen Thornton, chief executive
  1. Cambridge and Huntingdon Health Authority

    Whenever I think that enough time has passed since Jaymee Bowen's death for me to reflect on my experience as the manager at the centre of the case I am confronted by yet another ill informed and emotional commentary (18 January, p 200). I now realise that I must resign myself to the fact that the degree of international interest provoked by the case is such that commentary will run and run. If I am to join the debate now is the time for me to end my self imposed silence on the matter.

    The decision not to fund Jaymee's treatment was taken by my authority, not by me acting alone. But in fulfilling my role as communicator of the decision I soon became the highly personalised focus of populist media attention. The decision was based entirely on a consensus of expert medical opinion derived from doctors who had been treating her. At no time did my authority ever contemplate withdrawing funding for accepted, conventional treatment. Indeed, as soon as her privately funded experimental treatment ceased my authority quietly resumed the funding responsibility.

    Our decision was one taken on the basis …

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