This Week In The Bmj

Paying tribute to Ireland's doctors

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 18 December 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:b

In the past two centuries Ireland's doctors, especially in Ulster, have faced unique challenges over those of normal practice—the famine of the 19th century and the “troubles” of the 20th century. In 1847, according to Froggatt (p 1636), 4% of all physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries in Ireland died of fever associated with the famine. No doctors have died at work during the troubles, but Froggatt describes the psychological effects of treating injuries from violence—injuries that led to a Belfast surgeon accumulating a series of cases of gun injuries to the brain surpassed only in Chicago. On p 1609 Firth-Cozens et al show that a quarter of the doctors who treated victims of the Omagh bombing had scores diagnostic of post-traumatic stress disorder on a well validated questionnaire. Only half of them had sought help And on p 1648 Stewart gives a personal view of providing paediatric services on the “peace line” in Belfast.

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