Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Does the Medical Profession set a Good Example?

I read a report just recently stating that a fresh drive has been launched to encourage NHS staff to get the flu vaccine amid concerns of poor take up rates.
The report claimed that last year barely a third of those who work directly with patients had the vaccine.
Signatories include Dr Laurence Buckman, chair of the BMA GP committee, Dr Mark Porter, chair of the BMA consultants committee, Dr Peter Nightingale, president of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and Stephen Campion, chief executive of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association.
I found myself speculating upon why this state of affairs might have arisen. For the implication is that health service personnel – including doctors – do not practise what they preach.
For myself, I think that this charge is a fair one and that the notion that people working within the Health Service have such high ideals as presenting their own behaviour to their customers as the ultimate in self responsibility is a misplaced one. In some areas, yes – very few doctors would confess to not having their children immunised, and the vast majority do not smoke.
Yet responsible health behaviour in health professionals is by no means universal  - it may actually be quite patchy. Would you not think it perverse to be lectured to on the dangers of obesity by a nurse who is patently overweight herself? And smoking – well, it is not at all uncommon to see young dental nurses not far from where I live huddled in the car park and lighting up together.
And doctors as a group are, by and large, fond of a tipple. Myself included. Although in this day and age I would never drink alcohol when on duty or at any time when I would expect to have to drive a car.
And you do you know how some define an alcoholic – tongue not entirely in cheek? Well, how’s this: “an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than his doctor”.
Quite a sobering thought.

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