Intended for healthcare professionals


Debating the future of the NHS: Hawking versus Hunt

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 24 August 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4007
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

The dispute over the evidence for a seven day NHS arose again at a public debate on the NHS. Abi Rimmer reports

A speech by the eminent scientist Stephen Hawking—and the extraordinary reaction it drew from England’s health secretary—turned out to be the main talking point at the Royal Society of Medicine’s recent Talk NHS conference, which had invited doctors, NHS staff, and the public to have their say on the future of the health service.

Speaking at the event in London on 19 August, Hawking gave a very personal account of the benefit that seven day NHS services could bring to patients, but he also emphasised the need for policy making to be based on evidence.

“It has been frustrating for me personally when everything slows down at the weekend in hospital,” Hawking said. “However,” he added, “any change like this must be properly researched. Its benefits over the current system must be argued for, and evidence for them presented; and the …

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