Article Text

The Doctor vs. the Command: Can Disagreement Arise?
  1. Surg Cdr Rikus H Coetzee, M.MedSci MRCPsych RN, Consultant Psychiatrist1,
  2. RG Simpson2 and
  3. J Sharpley1
  1. 1Department of Community Mental Health, Sunny Walk PP6, HM Naval Base Portsmouth, PO1 3LT 02392 726256 02392 726622/ 938026622 DCMHPOR-CIVCON3{at}
  2. 2Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham


Doctors have long since assisted the Command on operations and in providing day to day bespoke medical care to the UK Armed Forces. Doctors and the Command work along different models that confer different obligations and priorities. For doctors the patient and their wellbeing is of primary importance and for the Command, the Unit as a whole with its military goals are of primary concern. Most of the time these two models work in harmony. However occasionally disagreement can arise. This article examines the models guiding their respective practice in order to understand the underpinnings of these disagreements, and offers some discussion of the issues, particularly as they pertain to the deployed environment. Finally, some recommendations are made to equip doctors and the Command to contain any disagreements.

Statistics from

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.