Views & Reviews Personal View

Please can we have some courageous leadership

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 06 December 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1213
  1. David M Lewis, general practitioner, Severn Valley Medical Practice, Worcester
  1. dr.david.lewis{at}

    Before I became an NHS general practitioner I had an enjoyable 20 year career as a medical officer in the Royal Air Force. I feel privileged to have experienced these two very different working environments.

    In the RAF I learnt about the military concept of leadership. Since joining the NHS I have heard this word used a lot. At the age of 30, proud to be a newly promoted squadron leader, I found myself in my first senior medical officer (SMO) post. This was not through any special ability on my part; leadership still comes young in the British military. I had worked with some impressive role models, but there was no particular training for the SMO role. At last I was “The Boss”—I “had my own train-set.” I took command of a joint RAF/army medical centre in Northern Ireland, when things were still quite ugly there. I felt enthusiastic and energetic.

    My first steps were faltering. The RAF medical branch has always been forward thinking and was an early …

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