Medicine has lost its mojo. To be sure, the technological ingenuity of keyhole surgery is amazing, the previously inconceivable (in vitro fertilisation, curing childhood cancer) is now routine and every year tens of thousands of people previously doomed to blindness by cataracts or being crippled by arthritis have their sight or mobility restored. Yet for all the immense good that medicine does, for those who have laboured in its vineyards for any length of time it is no longer the noble calling it once was. ‘I qualified just as the golden age of medicine was ending,’ writes Seamus O’Mahoney. ‘In the thirty-five years since then, I have worked in … many hospitals. I have witnessed … the corruption of my profession.’
Harsh words. The gist of his argument is that while everyday medical practice, what doctors do, continues much as before, the profession’s moral authority, and particularly its commitment to the truth, has been undermined, subverted even, by self-seeking careerists, managerialists, regulators and the machinations of drug companies.