Letters, calls and emails: Some career choices are not straightforward

Dear Editor

Dr Charles Brown’s letter about the suffocation of general practice by box-ticking computer geeks (GP, (17 November) and his reminiscence of Chancellor Gordon Brown’s family, made me wonder about the whereabouts of key faces in the evolution of UK state health.  

By chance, in my files, I found an article cut from GP some years ago, entitled ‘Are Read codes good for GPs?’ by Dr Andrew Herd (15 April 1994), and featuring notorious computer enthusiast-cum-GP Dr James Read.  

Essentially its about how awful Dr Read’s codes are. I agreed with this because the coding system displayed a strange ignorance of clinical medicine, and Dr Read, from the portrait, was quite young when he sold the codes to the Tory DoH for £1 million, extricating himself from state-funded general practice, with the connivance of the DoH (Was Ken ‘GP’s are always feeling for their wallets’ Clarke there then? Where is he now?)  

Dr Read became head of NHS centre for coding and classification in Loughborough, part of an NHS information management group that developed Read codes across all healthcare professional groups. But where is he now? Obviously not a GP.  

Fashionable as it is today to ask how Shipman got into (and stayed in) medicine, I would ask these two questions: how did Dr Read get into general practice and how did Ken Clarke get into the DoH, (health promotion, lager, cigars, and all that)?  

Dr Paul J Searle  

Eaton Socon, Cambridgeshire 

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