Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations BMJ Confidential

Mike Smith: In a tug of war for patient centred care

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 12 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6721


Mike Smith is the doyen of media doctors, for 25 years dispensing advice on the Jimmy Young show on BBC Radio 2 and pioneering a career path in writing and broadcasting that many doctors have since sought to follow. Why? “It’s easier than working,” he once told The BMJ. A former general practitioner, he is chairman of the Patients Association, where he supports patients’ efforts to navigate an often confusing system and backs their right to choice.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be an actor or a journalist. I’ve done a bit of the first and a lot of the second.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My wife of nearly 60 years. She was a student nurse when we met. She asked me to dance. I was in my last month of national service as a drummer in the Royal Air Force Fighter Command band. She said that she asked me because she “liked the colour of my waistcoat.” I’d never thought of medicine as a career until she told me about its all encompassing fascination.

What was the worst mistake in your career?

Almost taking a setback early in …

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