Letter: Plenty of time for doctors to rewrite the Hippocratic Oath

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is surprising that, as a BMA member, Mr Thomson (letter, 2 April) was unaware of the association's attempts to update the Hippocratic Oath . The concept of a formal commitment to shared professional values in a form which is relevant to modern practice is an ideal which the BMA has been discussing for several years. Doctors in Sheffield and Liverpool, Asia and the Americas have responded by sending us their drafts and comments. The BMA's aim now in publicising a draft text is precisely to encourage more to do so.

It is impossible to find a form of words to suit every perspective and so we have concentrated on core values which we hope will be thoroughly analysed and constructively argued. Selective and inaccurate quoting of the draft, such as that relating to abortion in Mr Thomson's letter, is unhelpful in our attempt to achieve consensus amongst the medical profession.

We anticipate a year of further debate before the text will be finalised by the BMA and all the countries represented in the World Medical Association, and so Mr Thomson has plenty of time to suggest improvements.


Chairman of Council

British Medical Association

London WC1