Doctors: are we doing enough to shape health policy?

Doctors: are we doing enough to shape health policy?

Once again this week, Jeremy Hunt is ordering doctors to do more, with no extra support. According to the BBC, he has issued a call for us to meet 4-hour A&E waiting time targets, without explanation of how he will help us.

This is the latest in a string of unrealistic demands from politicians and civil servants that seem completely out of touch with the realities of practicing medicine. The Junior Doctor Contract dispute led many to question whether we rely too heavily on the BMA to leverage the potential influence of the medical profession. With this latest diktat, it seems that as doctors we’re still underachieving at shaping the politics and policy agendas nationally and locally.

But how much power can we really have over the way things are done? Comparing to the situation in global health, it seems that the answer could be, ‘a lot’. In recent health crises, such as Zika and Ebola, clinicians were playing critical roles in leading national and international responses.

Clinicians practicing on the ground in West Africa and South America were making a huge difference. But equally, among those leading the Ebola and Zika responses through the World Health Organization, Isabelle Nuttall and Peter Salama are both medical doctors. The work they coordinate has major direct implications for national and international policy and clinical practice all over the world.

If doctors are leading policy development in global health, why not closer to home? Be it nationally or globally, we need to up-skill as necessary and start making our voices heard.

We’ll be discussing these issues and a lot more at the Global Health & Policy Course on May 6th.  For more info and to reserve seats click here.


Author: Dr David Neal, Doctor and Non-Executive Director of Polygeia

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