Judith Harvey

Fringe medicine

Medics have a long-standing relationship with the annual August circus that is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Medical students reprise their pantomimes as reviews. Specialty registrars mine their store of horror stories to test whether a career in theatrical stand-up would be more rewarding than a career standing up in an operating theatre – former obstetrician…
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Podcast | Sin City – the redemption

Judith Harvey is recently back from Colombia, which is slowly recovering from decades of violence brought about by its illegal manufacture and export of cocaine. Twenty-five years ago Medellín in Colombia was the murder capital of the world. The city was in the grip of Pablo Escobar’s drugs cartel. His teenage sicarios – hitmen –…
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Podcast | No es fácil: clinical electives in Cuba

Few things in Cuba are easy. Most countries faced with what Cuba has lived with for more than half a century would be failed states. Cuba keeps going, with hardship and sacrifice, but a shared vision. The reputation of Cuba’s health service – providing rich-country outcomes on a poor-country budget – attracts interest from politically…
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Podcast | Should GPs prescribe placebos?

Mrs Jones likes blue pills; they work better than those pink ones – even though they are the same drug. But she wouldn’t touch blue mashed potato. Wine buffs rate a wine higher if they believe it is expensive. Consumers are sure that a brand name product is superior to an identical generic, whether it…
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No risk, no reward: the NHS needs mavericks.

Judith Harvey examines the memoirs of some eminent hospital consultants, who are not just summing up their careers, but reflecting on the changes they have lived through. And when they are retired, they can say what they think. Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh set the trend with Do No Harm. Stephen Westaby, in Fragile Lives, tells how…
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I, Robot BM BCh (Oxon)

How long before machines are cleverer than us? The first robots were clockwork novelties. Now robots – named for the Russian word robotnic, meaning worker – can outperform humans at ever more tasks. But robots are specialists. They don’t have our versatility – yet. They can’t yet do what every child can do – transfer…
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