Tuesday, 12 April 2011


I have written before about how some of my consultant colleagues can be somewhat less than altruistic, especially when it comes to private practice. Private practice is however not the only area where a minority can exhibit a breathtaking selfishness. What follows is a true story, although I have changed some details to obscure the origin.

A monthly meeting of the surgical directorate at St Elsewheres. The agenda comes to “any other business” and one of the older consultants raises his hand to speak. “I regret to inform the committee that I have this week been informed that I have lung cancer and my condition is almost certainly terminal. My health is already deteriorating, and, although I still feel capable of some work I no longer feel able to undertake on call duties and would like to be taken off the on call rota.”
Initially there is a short period of stunned silence, before one of his colleagues speaks. “Well I am not picking up the extra work!”


  1. Oh dear.

    One of the redeeming features of Universities is that the kind of attitude you describe is still pretty rare, and the collective disapproval of it fairly undisguised. Long may it continue thus...

    ...though as the system gets ever more pressured, and thus evolves to favour the more borderline-psychopathic of its participants, who knows...