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Who owns truth?
  1. John Launer
  1. Dr John Launer, London Department of Postgraduate Medical Education, Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DN, UK; jlauner{at}

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Two journal articles caught my attention recently, mainly because they offered diametrically opposed views of patients. One was a “Personal view” in the BMJ, entitled “I want to see a consultant”.1 Written by a surgical specialist registrar from Scotland, it proposed that most requests from patients to see a consultant in a hospital appointment should be “acknowledged but politely rejected”. The author, who admitted to seeing such requests as “an insult and a challenge”, put forward two different reasons for turning them down. Firstly, such requests can simply be an example of assertiveness and hence an attempt to gain an unfair advantage. Secondly, the writer thought they implied criticism of medical staff below consultant grade, and therefore reduced the professional respect of team members.

The article was an interesting one, since it combined a belief in equity of access with what seemed like an acute sensitivity to actual or imagined slights. I would love to know what the writer will think of his current views when he reads them again in a few years as a seasoned consultant. As some respondents to the article have pointed out, it would also be fascinating to know what his opinion will be …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

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