BMJ tells doctors: do not play God

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DOCTORS WHO play God and assume they know what is best for their patients must change, the British Medical Journal says today. Old-style medical paternalism, immortalised by Dr Finlay of the television series, is out, and a new style of "partnership" between doctor and patient is now the gold standard.

Patients who are involved in their care and have control over their own treatment fare better, feel more satisfied and ultimately cost less. But paternalism is endemic in the NHS, says the journal.

Professor John Howie of the University of Edinburgh and colleagues suggest that doctors should be paid extra for longer consultations and providing continuity of care. But critics warn of these greater costs and say the trend will increase litigation. David Carvel, a GP in Glasgow, says in a letter to the BMJ that to have a patient-partner is "political correctness gone too far".