Views & Reviews

Spring awakening

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 21 February 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:448
  1. Trevor Trueman, sessional GP, Malvern, Worcester
  1. oromiasg{at}

Like the trees at this time of year, I am waking up. My views were already becoming more extreme with age, but a string of events last autumn stirred me, and I am coming out of hibernation.

Doctors used to make a big difference. The nuclear test ban treaties of 1963 and 1996 were partly the result of lobbying by the medical profession. Reports from the Medical Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons and the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (both now part of Medact) resulted in a 1983 report from the BMA that changed the United Kingdom’s policy on nuclear defence. The health professions have a proud history of standing up for powerless and abused people. For example, a programme on Channel 4 television in October called The Relief of Belsen showed how doctors, nurses, and medical students struggled to save life and dignity amid gross physical horror more than 60 years ago. In the 1990s we raised the profile of …

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