Letter: Honest medicine

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I find it stunning that anyone should enter into serious debate over whether doctors should be honest with their patients over the treatment options available ("Doctors told to come clean on rationing", 5 July).

The proposition that the patient may be better off not knowing that an unaffordable remedy is available is preposterous: since when have doctors been privy to the financial means of their patients? Next time I visit the doctor perhaps I should wear my best suit just in case I am unfortunate enough to have a difficult cancer.

Far more to the point is that as certain medicines are expensive and unavailable through the NHS doctors may not even be aware of their existence. Having lived in America for some time and had quite regular treatment in the priviledged environment where cost was no object thanks to full medical insurance, it was shocking to me to return to the NHS to find doctors apparently unaware of a generation of advanced medicines now in use in America. The adjustment was especially difficult given that the doctors in the US had gone to great lengths to describe to us how the new medicines were safer and more effective than those still being offered as the only option under the NHS.

MATTHEW CANNON

London SW19

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