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Views & Reviews No Holds Barred

Margaret McCartney: Patients and professionals: all in this together?

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h1331 (Published 09 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1331
  1. Margaret McCartney, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. margaret@margaretmccartney.com

What does partnership mean? Together. On the same side. Working as one. At least, that’s what it means to me, so the tone of some of the recent debate on patient empowerment has surprised me. Many articles in the medical press are telling doctors to get out of the driving seat—saying that we oppress patients, who need “emancipation.”

Much of medicine is still grounded in paternalism; this is true. And it’s true that services are often designed for the healthiest middle classes rather than for people with multimorbidity or who lack internet access or have poor literacy, for example.

Doctors are not the enemy, though. I want emancipation, too: I am working for the government rather than patients, and this system leaves me drained and …

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