Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Views & Reviews Personal View

Let us see the medical records of future world leaders

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 07 November 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2486

Rapid Response:

An unhealthy precedent from the presidents

I am not one to normally defend the privileges or working conditions
of the elected elite, generally they have it far too easy, but in this
instance it is necessary to defend their right to privacy--so the rest of
us don't end up having none later.

An open and honest government would be a real treat, indeed it would
be a refreshing change, but to demand the disclosure of politicians'
medical records onto the public domain is a step too far, and could become
the thin end of a particularly harmful wedge; where would this precedent
from the presidents apply next; to all government employees, council
staff, public sector workers in the NHS? Or would it just get tied in with
the proposed national ID card?

In his article Lord Owen suggests that people are "less prejudiced"
today, and I'd hope this were true, but this doesn't necessarily translate
into a positive insurance or mortgage assessment. Or even into an accurate
medical understanding by Journalists in the media.

Politicians health can become an issue and some obviously try to hide
their medical conditions from colleagues and their Party sometimes to their
own detriment. A better solution would be for parliament to keep all this
in-house, it could have a Parliamentary Doctor and clinic, and politicians
records could be held in confidence and accessed appropriately.

Now if this idea were translated to every workplace, general health
may indeed be raised across the country, and employees, but especially
men, may find it more convenient and easier to access a Doctor.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 November 2008
Adam Di Chiara
BMA, NUJ Father of Chapel (personal capacity)
BMJ Editorial