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An open letter to the Prince of Wales: with respect, your highness, you've got it wrong

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 08 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:118
  1. Michael Baum, professor emeritus of surgery and visiting professor of medical humanities
  1. University College London

    Twenty years ago, on the 150th anniversary of the BMA, you were appointed its president and used your position to admonish my profession for its complacency. You also used this platform to promote “alternative” medicine. Shortly after that I had the privilege of meeting you at a series of colloquia organised to debate the role of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Of course, you won't remember me but the event is indelible in my memory. I was the only one of my colleagues unequivocally to register dissent.

    A few days later you had a four page supplement in the London Evening Standard, promoting unproven cures for cancer, and the paper invited me to respond. I requested the same space but was only allowed one page, which at the last minute was cut by a quarter to make space for an advert for a new release by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Furthermore, the subeditors embarrassed me with the banner headline, “With respect your Highness, you've got it wrong” (13 August 1984). As I have nothing more to lose I'm happy for that headline to grace the BMJ today.

    Over the past 20 years I have …

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