Mr Perrin’s Blog: "Is the Good Doctor being hypocritical about his Hippocratic Oath?"

MR Perrin’s Blog is usually called: "A word in your ear." but for one time only, we have changed the title to: "A word in your stethoscope"

Recently there has been a “war of words” between a GP {Dr Shehadeh) and the Chairman of Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions (Mr Woodbridge) over the issue of annual health checks for people with learning disabilities.

Dr Shehadeh, currently has 41 patients who qualify, has declined to sign-up to carry out these health checks on the grounds he believes them to be a waste of time and money and have no proven benefit to patients health and well-being.

Mr Woodbridge argues that the checks provide a means of early detection of health problems, particularly applicable to people with learning disabilities, which could be life threatening if untreated. He believes GPs who refuse to carry out these checks are failing in their duty of care for vulnerable patients such as those with learning disabilities.

In this blog I want to concentrate on what I perceive to be the attitude of the “Good Doctor” Shehadeh, which is, he seems far more concerned with how his patients treat him rather than how he treats his patients. For all I know he may be a very good GP but there are, at the very least, 41 of his patients who probably consider him to be indifferent to their health and well-being.

“The Hippocratic Oath” now known as “The Declaration of Geneva”, as currently published by the World Medical Association (WMA) reads:-

“At the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession:

* I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity; * I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due; * I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity; * The health of my patient will be my first consideration; * I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died; * I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession; * My colleagues will be my sisters and brothers; * I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient; * I will maintain the utmost respect for human life; * I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat; * I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.

Dr Shehadeh I draw your attention specifically to items 4&8 of The Declaration and ask if you are committed to honour the pledges made? Taking account of your comments in previous blogs and your reluctance to participate in any scheme that benefits the health and well-being of your patients, I am inclined to the view that you are not so committed and that you are far more concerned with how your duties impact upon your own time and health and well-being. You acknowledge that people with learning difficulties are at increased risk of mortality but decline to provide health checks that may well save lives. Bearing in mind items 4&8 of The Declaration, I consider it unethical and hypocritical of you to deny a service on the basis of cost.

I remind you of comments you made in your blog titled “Who Cares” critical of those who perceived care to be all about money whilst you believed the main expenditure to be time and affection and that money is modern society’s way of measuring care. What has changed your mind to the extent that you now worry more about the cost rather than appreciate the value? You are in danger of becoming the doctor who knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

Dr Shehadeh is critical of charities such as Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions and takes Mr Woodbridge to task for “pushing” for these health checks. He claims that services provided by the NHS are determined by “who shouts most and which pressure group has better access to decision makers. I suggest, rather than criticise Mr Woodbridge for his zeal and determination, that his patients would be better served if he applied the same zeal and determination to providing much needed services to his patients.

Dr Shehadeh you are very well paid for the job you do. Spare us from any more of your tales of woe and how badly you are treated by unappreciative patients who take you for granted and work you to exhaustion. Ask not what your patients should do for you, but what you should do for your patients.

I am in my eighties and, having read Dr Shehadeh’s previous blogs, believe I am very fortunate he is not my GP, but then Dr Shehadeh may well be relieved that I am not one of his patients.

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