A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, March 30, 2007

Nanny Hewitt Niggles Doctors!

Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, no doubt thinking she was saying something useful, told Pulse magazine that some Muslim women feared raising sensitive issues with their GP in case it got back to their families. She said, "I have had Muslim women give me chapter and verse on very distressing breaches of confidentiality by Muslim GPs. Some women patients feel they cannot trust their own GP, who knows the patient's extended families. If they go and talk to him about a very difficult situation concerning domestic violence or sexual health problems they fear that he will share that with other members of the community. They are very close-knit communities."

She had no basic evidence for these comments, other than anecdotes, and they have, of course, upset Muslim male doctors. I would call it a slur unless she is able to substantiate the remarks. Some wag at the Department of Health suggested that she "did not say that some Muslim GPs are breaching patient confidentiality but that some Muslim women fear their GP will disclose information." That's not quite agreeing with the "chapter and verse" quote, but then I can see how civil servants would wish to diffuse a possible row.

I tend to agree with Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, who said, "These are very serious accusations. Patricia Hewitt must know that if she has evidence of such breaches of confidentiality she should refer them to the GMC. In any case, I do question whether it is at all helpful to make such generalised statements."

Generalised statements are what we have had from this government for the last ten years. I hope that, if they want to be the next government, the Conservatives desist from spin, subtleties, and half-truths and tell it as it is. That is, keep up in government what they say in opposition.


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