Mad cows, my mother, and medical ethics
Kenneth Calman, former chief medical officer, is the president of the Institute of Medical Ethics
It’s slightly changed now, but when I did it, [I] was the senior medical adviser to the government. So, although I was based at the Department of Health, I also had links to education, the Home Office, and the chief scientist’s office too. The CMO has to present the evidence, gained from the medical and scientific community. I was close to what was happening in policy terms and in influencing decisions made about a variety of health related issues, but it is ministers who make the decisions.
I think it was my patient contact that made me particularly interested. I’ve seen patients and their families become much more sophisticated. They know much more than they used to, and that’s great. We must support and develop it. But, in doing so, you have to expose them to some of the ethical issues about doing a particular treatment or course of action.