Right of Reply: Dr Ian Bogle

The chairman of the British Medical Association replies to an article on rude doctors
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The Independent Culture
I AM saddened by The Independent's decision to seek and publish reader's stories of insulting behaviour by doctors. Although I would not deny that some doctors are rude to patients, I do not believe that this approach is the most responsible way to improve matters.

It goes without saying that no one in the medical profession would condone insulting behaviour by doctors. Unfortunately, in a service as large as the National Health Service, rudeness does occur; and if there were only a handful of cases, this would be a handful too many. But let us get this into perspective. There are one million contacts every day between GPs and patients and the vast majority are based on high-quality care and are conducted to the satisfaction of both parties.

I have been a family doctor in Liverpool for 37 years and I can honestly say that cases of rudeness by doctors have been exceptionally rare. I have never come across the sort of outlandish anecdotes you printed in your article - except at dinners where they have been doing the rounds in speeches for as long as I have been qualified.

Doctors today are aware of the changing relationship they now have with patients. It is now much more of a partnership and doctors realise that patients are no longer prepared to accept advice from the profession without question.

The measures that the profession is discussing to establish a revalidation scheme for doctors will include the issues of bedside manner and communications skills.

I have more confidence that this approach will bring about improvements in the present situation than I have in The Independent's decision to seek out and publish the worst cases.