Doctors must challenge political decisions that will cause medical harmBMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e6894 (Published 16 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6894
All rapid responses
I agree with Dr. Roche: “Doctors must challenge political decisions that will cause medical harm”(1). They need to do that for two reasons: First, as Dr. Roche stated, openly challenging political decisions that will be harmful for the nation’s health is a professional duty. It has been specifically emphasized in a recent statement of the World Medical Association on the ethical implications of collective action by physicians: “Physicians must consider not only their duty to individual patients, but also their responsibility to improve the system such that it meets the requirements of accessibility and quality.” (2). That is why the Turkish Medical Association names ‘grev’ (strike) as ‘g(o)rev’ (duty).
The other reason is the connection between professional rights and the right to health, th right to access to the services needed, and patient rights. Patients are becoming customers in the same process that proletarianises doctors. Cost-effectiveness is the policy that decreases salaries while diminishing access to services. That is why we need to defend professional rights together with the right to health. Otherwise our demands would be misguided and, mostly, futile. And society would always think that doctors only react to the policies that conflict with their own interests. But in fact, in this era of health-reform pandemic, neoliberal privatisation policies violate both sides’ rights at the same time. As Rudolp Virchow said in the 19th century, “Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing more than medicine on a grand scale”.
1. Roche SE. Doctors must challenge political decisions that will cause medical harm. BMJ 2012;345:e6894.
2. WMA Statement on the Ethical Implications of Collective Action by Physicians. Adopted by the 63rd WMA General Assembly, Bangkok, Thailand, October 2012. http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/c22/index.html
Competing interests: No competing interests