The patient/client/consumer/service user and medical ethics 40□years on

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This essay, written from my non-doctor's ‘lay’ perspective, sketches a gradually improving approach to medical ethics over the 40-year period since this journal was founded. A central feature of this improvement has been the increasing focus of medical ethics on the interests and perspectives of the patients/clients/consumers/service users, whose interests doctors and other healthcare workers serve. Events such as misuse of the end of life ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ and the shockingly poor care revealed in National Health Service hospitals in Mid-Staffordshire show that these improvements are by no means universal. Nonetheless, there has been a steady improvement in general terms towards putting patients first and it is not flattery to say that in its consistent support for this concern and in its promotion of non-medical involvement in medical ethics education the Journal of Medical Ethics has itself made a significant contribution to ‘doing good medical ethics’.

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