Rapid responses are electronic comments to the editor. They enable our users to debate issues raised in articles published on bmj.com. A rapid response is first posted online. If you need the URL (web address) of an individual response, simply click on the response headline and copy the URL from the browser window. A proportion of responses will, after editing, be published online and in the print journal as letters, which are indexed in PubMed. Rapid responses are not indexed in PubMed and they are not journal articles. The BMJ reserves the right to remove responses which are being wilfully misrepresented as published articles.
I read Brian Keeble's Personal View with interest & concern, from
the perspective of a Medical Microbiologist who trained with the Public
Health Laboratory Service (PHLS; forerunner of the Health Protection
Agency)before taking a consultant post with the NHS, from which I have now
I entirely agree that arrangements that were set up after the Acheson
Report worked well, in that it clarified the arrangements between the
Hospital laboratory & the Public Health Dept (in my case this being in
many cases Keeble's department)which are so important for the control of
communicable disease, especially when urgent action is needed (eg
Meningococcal disease). What a pity that all such arrangements have
continually to be "reformed".
During my twenty six year career as a consultant I witnessed a number
of attempts to reform or dismantle the PHLS, & it is ironic to note
the number of times that the attempt was stalled by the occurrence of a
big outbreak; one of these being Stanley Royd. Like Keeble, I hope that we
do not have to have another episode, to teach us lessons which we should
have learnt already.