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Healthcare rationing: no desistance, no completion

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 10 October 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:a

“Yours is not to complete the task/Yet neither are you free to desist from it.” This phrase from the Ethics of the Fathers—quoted in an account of attempts to ration health care in Israel (p 1005)—sums up beautifully the duty of those who must serve as stewards of the resources of health care. Politicians in many countries and some doctors try to desist. But desistance is in this case action—because choices will still be made. They have to be made because not all can be provided. Even if not …

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