Views & Reviews Personal View

Is it about the patients?

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 19 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1438

In the strange new world of the modern NHS doctors must now be prevented from seeing their patients. I had attended a woman with a massive postpartum haemorrhage who nearly died. After resuscitation and various medical and surgical procedures, she needed a hysterectomy. She recovered well and went home after a week with her baby. She did not attend her postnatal follow-up, but no further appointment or letter was generated.

Eventually, she went to her general practitioner with various questions as she was unhappy. After a saga involving lost letters, an appointment was finally made with her consultant obstetrician and me, the operating surgeon.

Two weeks before the scheduled appointment an exploratory legal letter arrived at the trust. Without sight of the GP’s letter, the head of legal services decided that the patient was on “a fishing trip” as “the solicitors were well known to be aggressive.” It was said that the issue …

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