Doctors playing at politics

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 14 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:925
  1. Harry McNaughton (, rehabilitation physician
  1. Medical Research Institute, Wellington, New Zealand

    In 2003 the New Zealand Ministry of Health funded an update of the New Zealand stroke guideline (available at As part of the launch of the guideline the minister of health hosted a parliamentary function. As a co-editor of the guideline I was invited to speak for five minutes on its main points. What follows is my description of the experience of trying to get an important message across to a political audience in a short space of time.

    The minister of health is in the front row. Maori greetings, responses, and waiata (songs) are completed. Caterers' trays jingle in the background. How do you say, in five minutes, something that will make a minister sit up and act? Did I miss this bit of the medical curriculum? “Ten easy ways to convince politicians and civil servants”? Perhaps not.

    This launch represents the work of dozens of clinicians, consumers, and voluntary organisations putting the case for better service delivery for people at risk of stroke and better management of stroke …

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