Letters

Unaccustomed as I am to writing to journals, I felt I had to congratulate Alan Maynard on his piece ('Looking Askance', 10 June). The man is a genius.

Regular readers will know that the underlying theme of Alan's work is a very important one - that resources are scarce in the NHS, demand outstrips supply and we have to make explicit and sometimes painful rationing decisions, based on health economic principles, to ensure we maximise the health benefit.

This is a message many of us have taken on board and strive to put into practice - although we have discovered it is easier to promulgate these views from an ivory tower than act on them in a complicated political football like the NHS.

But Alan's genius is in how he manages to write article after article, year after year, based on the same message. Most lesser mortals would manage one or two before they ran out of ways of saying the same thing.

Now he has surpassed even his own high standards by hitting on a new theme that has the potential to run and run for years.

Many of us will be forced to recognise that the art of true genius is to come up with a simple original idea that no one else has thought of.

Alan's idea is this: to weave his key message about scarcity of resources into a series of articles that attack different specialties of the medical profession one by one.

He has started with an easy target - public health doctors - and has even come up with an original, if ever so slightly inaccurate, title for them - 'drains folk'. Why had no one thought of that before?

There are dozens of specialties and sub-specialties he can attack over the next few years and, providing he can find an editor gullible enough to accept these articles, he has got it made.

Well done, Alan. I am looking forward to the articles on why the need to ration resources means we have to do away with paediatricians, haematologists and oncologists - but I guess that may be a few years down the line.

Dr Brian Keeble Ipswich