My final choice: speaking truth to power

Fiona Godlee’s ‘final choice‘, after 17 years as the BMJ’s Editor-in-Chief, was to remind the healthcare and scientific community how important it is to speak truth to power. Fiona Godlee highlighted that this takes both courage and persistence.

British psychiatry has argued that “soft power is somehow different.

As a medical professional [I was an NHS psychiatrist for 25 years] I spoke up. I advocated for full transparency in relation to all aspects of the scientific method. I advocated for marketing to be fully removed from medical education. I advocated for ethics to lead the science of health. I also did my best to openly listen to the experience of others – a vital ‘evidence base’ that is too easily demoted by academic dogmatism, hubris, and vested interests.

Psychiatry continues to try and address stigma. However, as a specialty, it has generally reacted defensively when faced with the range of issues that Baroness Cumberlege carefully considered in First Do No Harm

Nearly a decade ago, I wrote a paper for the British Journal of Psychiatry which shared concerns that stigma had not been fully addressed by the psychiatric profession and that evidence was beginning to indicate that it was in fact contributing to iatrogenic stigma. The British Journal of Psychiatry rejected my paper [it was subsequently published in the Journal of Mental Health and Social Inclusion.]

Speaking truth to power  proved to be “final” for my career in psychiatry.

I chose to retire from medicine at the age of 51 years.  I was never courageous, I was just Peter. I had my faults – we all do – but I was valued for my openness and integrity by patients and colleagues alike.

I am not recommending this to everyone:

To play this film – it is just 30 seconds long – please click here or on the image above.

Courage to care:

To play this short film please click here or on the image above.

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