Gavin Francis

Gavin Francis is a GP in Edinburgh. His books include Adventures in Human BeingIntensive Care: A GP, a Community and Covid-19 and Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence.


Arthur who?

3 January 2019

It is a customary pleasure of the LRB that, within a single issue, harmonies arise between different pieces, as well as contradictions. Just a few pages after Harald Prins’s letter in the issue of 3 January asserting that King Arthur’s legendary conquests in Iceland and Greenland legitimised British colonial conquest in the late 16th century, Katherine Rundell, in her piece on the narwhal, brought...

About Penguins

4 January 2018

Regarding the fatal disorientation of penguins, Robert Falcon Scott said of the adélie, the species that interested Werner Herzog, that they show ‘a pig-headed disregard for their own safety’ (Letters, 25 January). I was stationed in Antarctica in 2003 when a British Antarctic Survey pilot told me he’d spotted one more than a hundred miles from safety on the Antarctic plateau, walking towards...
Amia Srinivasan’s tentacular essay on octopuses was a treat. She mentions the 2010 EU directive on animal testing, which classified cephalopods with vertebrates, because of their ‘ability to experience pain’. That was 17 years after the UK recognised the sentience of these remarkable animals: in 1993, the then home secretary, Michael Howard, gave the common octopus, Octopus vulgaris, the status...

Cash for Diagnoses

5 March 2015

Gavin Francis writes: So it’s the fault of GPs, once again the lightning conductors for the nation’s health anxieties. I’m not insulted. What is outrageous is that this initiative specifically erodes patients’ trust in their doctors’ motives, and uses the consulting room to gather data rather than to offer help and support. So there are disparities between London and Belfast, well, go find...

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