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It's a doctor's job to make judgements

It is rather ironic that Dr Tony Calland dismisses the recent GMC guidance on belief and practice as ‘confusing and inconsistent' when his own comments in Pulse were pretty confusing (News, 3 October).

In his assertion that doctors ‘are not there to judge patients', this surely depends on what meaning of making a judgment he has in mind?

I agree we are not ever there to judge in the sense of condemning, but in the sense of making an evaluation and assessment, that is exactly what we are there for.

If how the patient chooses to lead their life is or is likely to be making them ill, then far from it being inappropriate for the doctor to refuse to help (in the sense of encouraging, aiding or abetting), it's our duty to refuse.

Dr Calland's comments taken literally mean it would be wrong for doctors to refuse morphine for every addict that requests it, even if we believe morphine addiction to be dangerous, or to refuse to refer to a homeopath even if we believe homeopathy to be nonsense.

If the BMA's ethics committee's real agenda is to leave its members who oppose abortion to hang out to dry, it may be high time those members stopped paying their BMA subscriptions.

From Dr Trevor Stammers, lecturer in healthcare ethics, St Mary's University College, Twickenham

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