1 SEPTEMBER 1939, Page 21


SIR,—Your correspondent, Mr. Tudor Edmunds, before rush- ing into print should first of all acquaint himself of the facts. In his letter in your issue of August 4th, which, unfortunately, I have only just seen, he gives an entirely erroneous and misleading impression of the status and work of the British Medical Association.

It is a perfectly true statement th t the B.M.A. is a volun- tary organisation, but its membership, far from being " limited," includes more than two-thirds of the practising doctors in this country, whether these be specialists, con- sultants, general practitioners, or those engaged in the Public Health services. On the other hand it does not, as stated, include dentists among its members unless they happen also to be qualified medical practitioners.

The B.M.A., moreover, is recognised by the Government as the official means of consultation with the medical pro- fession on all matters concerning the health of the nation and its safety in a national emergency.

With regard to midwives, in point of fact there is a good deal more behind the question of midwives and anaesthetics than can be immediately apparent to those lacking the neces- sary technical knowledge. Thus, while most medical men agree that the now common use cf gas and oxygen provides a harmless means of relieving pain, the same confidence cannot be felt about the use of anaesthetics such as chloroform, even in small amounts, for it is often in th: early stages of chloro- form anaesthesia that the risk is greatest.

It must be remembered, too, that it was on the administra- tion of anaesthetics generally that the B.M.A. was being asked to express its opinion, and that it would be far from easy to draw any hard-and-fast line between what should be regarded as safe in non-medical hands and what should be regarded as dangerous.

Surely this is enough to prove that the B.M.A. has the interests of the public at heart, and, if further evidence is required, you have only to refer to the B.M.A.'s recent work on nutrition and physical education.—Yours faithfully,