Views & Reviews Personal View

I was misquoted over very premature babies

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 30 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1966

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Daphne Austin, consultant in public health, NHS West Midlands Specialised Commissioning, Birmingham
  1. Daphne.Austin{at}

Months ago I agreed to take part in a television documentary that the UK film maker Adam Wishart was making about premature babies. He was keen to have a commissioner’s input, although he got a public health doctor’s view—which is not quite the same thing. Adam and I met on a couple of occasions over a period of weeks, and at the third meeting he interviewed me for more than an hour. At this time the documentary was a work in progress, so I didn’t know where and how I would fit in. The final product was 23 Week Babies: The Price of Life, recently shown on BBC Two.

Before the documentary was released I was informed of its content, the arguments, and my contribution. Although I was not entirely sure that my views would be fully conveyed, I was satisfied, given the specific issues that Adam wished to consider, that my input complemented the views of others.

Media interest was generated before the documentary was aired, with The Big Questions (BBC One), Woman’s Hour (BBC Radio 4), Victoria Derbyshire (BBC Radio 5 Live), Jeremy Vine (BBC Radio 2), and BBC Radio Scotland wanting to cover the subject. My first outing was on The Big Questions. I was introduced as “the doctor who thought babies born at 23 weeks should be left to die.” That’s …

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