Letter: Alison Halford: courageous stand, ignominious deal

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The Independent Online
Sir: So Alison Halford, too, is to opt for retirement on medical grounds ('Disgust greets deal to end Halford case', 22 July).

As a General Practitioner I have dealt for many years with the problem of patients requesting support for such retirement. Where the symptoms complained of have minimal relevance to the ability to continue the work in question, but are being used as a lever, merely to obtain financial or other advantage for the patient or their employer, the temptation to comply should be resisted by the doctor. Otherwise, however good the intention, the whole concept of a professional opinion is debased.

If doctors allow themselves to be misused in this way they cannot criticise the Soviet psychiatrists who pronounced political dissidents as mentally ill.

Yours faithfully,

D. J. HANDFORD

Romsley, Worcestershire

22 July

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