John Marks is something of a national treasure. Warm, funny, passionate, opinionated and occasionally contrary, he is a man whose life for more than 40 years marched in beat with that of the National Health Service. There is scarcely a medical issue or controversy in which John Marks was not involved. Abortion law reform, the doctors' 1970s revolt against the General Medical Council, the foundation of the Royal College of General Practitioners, countless NHS reorganizations, and the bloody battle over NHS pay beds and the pay of junior doctors are just a sample.Then there was the fierce, principled battle over how the medical profession and the public should respond to the terror of a new disease - AIDS. And the great war that was fought over the Conservatives introduction of market forces into the NHS in the late 1980s and early 1990s - an approach to running the NHS that lives on, reincarnated, under the current Labor government.In all of these John Marks played more than a walk-on part. In many he was a principal actor. For anyone wanting fully to understand the BMA's role in all this, this book is thus required reading. But it is much more than just a dry history of times past. It is laced with anecdote, from the horrifying to the hilarious, and on to high politics. John Marks' account of his life and times provides the tale of a warm, human, liberal and occasionally buccaneering man whose passion for life and causes leaves even those who do not always agree with him eager to count him among their friends.
1925-1943 My childhood and life as an evacuee. University and the army. From lorry driver to principal in general practice. My involvement in abortion law reform. I get involved in medical politics. I get started in medical politics at a national level. A Royal College, an academic approach and a doctorate. Early attempts at NHS reform and heart transplants. An outdated constitution and Sir Paul Chambers’ report. I become involved in national negotiations. I appear before a disciplinary body and I lose some friends. I represent the profession at home and abroad. AIDS and the BMA. A Royal sesquicentennial year. International problems and political speculation. Two crises and one election. Princess Diana opens the library and I have a rough ARM. The approaching storm. The Storm breaks: The White Paper. The Profession rejects the Reforms. The campaign continues. The Bill and reactions to it. The campaign continues: mysterious faxes and the Oxford debate. My last few months in the chair. I am a past chairman. A variety of activities including boxing lecturing and a disputed SRM. Doctors in the Dock. A quiet retirement, a general election and a question mark.