This page links to the text of published articles mainly in the non-medical press and online.
A Times article, written with John Nottingham, a Consultant Pathologist from Northampton, is on the topic of health screening, and was published on 24 July 2001. This is a subject which generates a lot of confusion in the public mind, confusion which is compounded by a similar lack of understanding on the part of politicians and the media (see also the popular medicine page).
I’ve also a number of opinion pieces to the Yorkshire Post over the years, here are links to a representative sample:
advice to Gordon Brown (he ignored it!)
advice to David Cameron (so did he!)
And there have been a couple of others, but all a bit samey.
Letters to the ‘quality’ press are quite a good way to hone your writing skills. You get a feel for what the letters editors will and won’t find deserving of publication, and playing the game with them is quite a good way of developing a journalistic style. As you learn the unwritten rules, you’ll find your strike rate improves steadily.
Topics are pretty varied. There was this exchange concerning the desirability or otherwise of moss in lawns, and this was my contribution to a list of the most desirable villages in the UK. I also lamented the lack of intellectual rigour (or any sort of intellect, really) in the decision-making of some politicians. A similar lack of acquaintance with rational analysis was shown by a response to data from the GMC’s disciplinary committee. And while we’re talking about politicians, here’s TIC dig at Gordon Brown’s ‘prudence’ in managing the country’s economy, and this one questions Alan Milburn’s numeracy (yes, we’re going back a few years here).
Naturally, there are lots of letters on NHS issues raised in the paper – issues such as the naive assumptions made by members of the public and politicians concerning doctors’ working practices – the second time I’d felt obliged to draw attention to the issue. Then there was the use of inaccurate and misleading data when reporting on (e.g.) the Mid-Staffs debacle. This was a slightly tongue in cheek comment on the GP-bashing which seems to have become a national sport
There are several contributions on religious issues. Perceived arrogance is one of my beefs against believers, as is their misunderstanding concerning the imagined drawbacks of atheism, or indeed of the nature of our non-belief. For some, of course, football approximates to a religion, and I commiserated with fans on at least one occasion.
Many letters are difficult to classify, such as this one about giant guinea pigs; this one which draws attention to the relative resilience of our railway system, and that of wartime Japan, and this one on the perils of texting.
Poor old Prince Charles was subject to a rather snide dig (and there’s another one, concerning his devotion to crackpot alternative therapies, on the home page if you look closely enough), and then there’s spitting – don’t get me on to spitting (on the street or field of play) or we’ll be here all night.
In January 2010, I began writing a regular blog on the Hospital Doctor online magazine, and I have also contributed to Humanist Life (there are links to a couple of individual articles on the humanist page of this site).