Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations BMJ Confidential

Margaret McCartney: Singing the praises of evidence

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 17 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2015


Margaret McCartney is a Glasgow GP whose voice—in newspapers, on the radio, online, or in a choir—is never afraid to hit the difficult notes. Her central themes are evidence based medicine, defending the NHS, and a general distaste for public relations spin. In November she was elected to the national council of the Royal College of General Practitioners. A sample tweet: “Patient paradox; too much screening and overtreatment for the well, but not enough time and resources for the sick. Everyone loses.” Her book, The Patient Paradox: Why Sexed up Medicine is Bad for Your Health, was published in 2012. She is 42 and has three children.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be an engineer, because someone told me girls couldn’t be engineers.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

So many. Ruth Payne when I was a medical student; Lilian Murchison when I was newly qualified; Alison Glenesk was my brilliant GP trainer. Some inspired me the opposite way, by their treatment of colleagues—or the one who gave a diagnosis of terminal cancer and immediately walked away.

What was the worst mistake in your career?

Clinical mistakes—things where …

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