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Stuck in the middle?

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 17 November 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1195
  1. David Lock, former member of parliament for Wyre Forest and government minister (

    I have just emerged from three years stuck between the medical profession and NHS managers on one side and the public, the media, and local politicians on the other. The only issue was whether or not the NHS could continue to run a blue light accident and emergency department at Kidderminster Hospital, one of the smallest district general hospitals in the country, with no paediatric department and just a single consultant in emergency medicine.

    Outwardly popular but dangerous services simply cannot be allowed to continue

    I was the local member of parliament, a government minister, and the husband of a general practitioner. What could an MP do in these circumstances? Well there were only two choices—either back the changes recommended by professionals or back a futile, misguided but popular (and populist) campaign against them. No MP could try to sit in the middle of this storm.

    Arguments for scaling down the emergency department to a minor injuries unit were overwhelming. The local consultants said that the department wasn't safe and the King's Fund, brought in …

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