Harold Shipman case

Two letters to a GP about the implications of the
Shipman case (doctor as serial killer)
and the fundamental premises of the medical profession in general

In the wake of the Dr Shipman case, one sees repeated demands that the medical profession should receive ‘trust and respect’.  It is absurd that people who earn their living, and a good one at that, by exercising their legal power to make decisions about things concerning other people against the will of those other people, should expect to be trusted and respected into the bargain. 

But those who do not pretend to trust and respect them will be deprived of any possibility of enjoying the resources over the supply of which they have monopoly rights, because what doctor will agree to accept as a registered client for whom he is ‘responsible’ anyone who makes it clear that their application for acceptance by him is made under protest, enforced by an unjust law?

The recent flu epidemic reminded me of another option of which I am deprived by the intervention of the medical profession.  You can't decide for yourself whether you want a flu inoculation enough to pay for it, and you can't even ask a doctor whether he will let you have one unless he has agreed to let you become his physiological property.  And he isn't likely to let you do that unless you conceal that you are applying to him against your will and under protest.  What a terrible thing that inoculations are not available on the free market, and that syringes with which people could inject themselves are not freely available.

Even of those who are registered with a physiological slave-master, many must be deterred by the unpleasantness of interacting with the medical profession in order to obtain the inoculation in the first place, and then have it injected in the psychologically distorted atmosphere of a so-called 'health centre'.  I certainly know some people who made no attempt to protect themselves by an inoculation throughout the recent epidemic, on account of their memories of past occasions when it had been made difficult for them to obtain such things because some doctor considered it his place to decide, on the crudest of statistical grounds, whether they 'needed' it enough.

* * * * *

In articles arising out of the Shipman case, various things have been said explicitly which are usually left implicit.  One newspaper article contained an amusing and highly-idealised description of what goes on between a doctor and his client.  The victim has a problem which he presents to the doctor, who provides diagnosis and a plan of treatment.  But that is nothing like the way it is.

If one has a problem, one wishes for information so that one can make one's own diagnosis and plan one's own treatment.  In order to do this, one would like to be able to obtain information, but seeking this from doctors is a highly unfavourable strategy.  They do not provide one with useful references or anything of that kind, but like to present one with some highly edited reactions which one does not trust an inch.  Everything possible is done to make information unavailable to any but members of the medical profession.  It is not even possible to shop around, as it should be, to get a variety of dishonest noises from a number of members of the medical profession, and to make up one's own mind which are the most convincing. 

Some particular member of the medical profession has to agree to have you registered as his personal property, who is only allowed to receive his particular selection of evasive and uninformative noises. 

It appears that the medical profession will close ranks in reaction to the Shipman case, and make matters even worse.  The 'autonomy' of individual practitioners is supposed to be the source of danger.  Dr Shipman ordered an unusual quantity of life-prolonging drugs, which apparently meant that he was prolonging the lives of some of his clients whom most other doctors (quite rightly, as the newspaper put it) would have 'allowed to die with dignity'.  So he was guilty of making more concession to what some of his clients would have chosen for themselves, had the law permitted them to do so, as well as bumping some of them off a trifle too consistently and conspicuously.

It was certainly a great mistake to forge a will, because we should all realise that while modern society objects very much to an individual trying to increase his own freedom, it has no objection at all to his curtailing the freedom of others.