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16. Dr Margaret McCartney

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Can health screening do more harm than good? Why do we recommend medical interventions where there is no evidence they work?

These are the kind of thorny questions that Dr Margaret McCartney addresses in her high-profile new column in the BMJ and Radio 4’s Inside Health.

Our panel highlighted her as ‘an original and rigorous voice for clinical general practice’ and she has demonstrated her willingness to challenge prejudices and preconceptions even more this year, with Jeremy Hunt’s plans to ‘name and shame’ GPs on missed cancer diagnoses being a case in point.

One of the achievements of last year was seeing the RCGP Council formally approve her proposal that there should be a Standing Group to contribute to the debate and policies which lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

It is this overdiagnosis and overtreatment ‘which lead to more health inequalities through resources going to the well and not the sick’, she says.

She has also almost finished her second book, which is about death and dying, and she recently wrote that the BMJ was wrong to support the Assisted Dying Bill, arguing it would overmedicalise death.

And her biggest achievement of the year: ‘I have survived another year in general practice – which is I think harder than it sounds.’

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Related links

RCGP council to launch working group on overdiagnosis and overtreatment

Are we aware of the consequences of raising awareness?