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Qualifications (4)

PhD in Health Studies
PhD / DPhil

Status Complete
Part Time Yes
Years 2008 - 2012
Project Title This thesis challenges The World Medical Association’s (WMA) International Code of Ethics statement in 2004, which declared that ‘medical ethics in armed conflict is identical to medical ethics in times of peace’. This is achieved by examining the
Project Description This thesis challenges The World Medical Association’s (WMA) International Code of Ethics statement in 2004, which declared that ‘medical ethics in armed conflict is identical to medical ethics in times of peace’. This is achieved by examining the professional, ethical, and legal conflicts in British Military healthcare practice that occur in three distinct military environments. These are (i) the battlefield, (ii) the operational environment and (iii) the non-operational environment. As this conflict is exacerbated by, the need to achieve Operational Effectiveness, this thesis also explores the dual loyalty conflict that Military Health Care Professionals (MHCPs) encounter between following military orders and professional codes of practice.

The method used to challenge the WMAs statement and explore these conflicts is by real-life problem-solving vignettes, which mirror actual ethical and professional conflicts and dilemmas that may occur in the three environments. The areas of law analysed similarly reflect the difficulties that MHCPs face when caring for the sick and wounded in violent locations when under attack. In particular, the thesis questions whether it is right for a MHCP to owe their patients a duty of care in hostile environments. This leads onto to questioning if any MHCP could be protected by combat immunity where no duty of care is owed to fellow soldiers in the battlefield.

The thesis also questions whether the standard of care should be variable in hostile environments. It also explores the dual loyalty conflict of a wounded senior officer refusing treatment from a junior officer. In addition, it examines the difficulties of a doctor maintaining patient confidentiality when a soldier refuses treatment for a psychological injury but wishes to redeploy to the battlefield.

The thesis successfully challenges the WMAs statement. It also concludes by suggesting that neither a military-focused approach nor a professional healthcare-focused approach towards military healthcare is the best way to solve the dual loyalty conflict.
Awarding Institution University of Hull