One feature of life in the UK of perennial interest is health and well-being. Health provision is a constant topic of debate for politicians and policy-makers, a perennial source of reporting and misreporting in the media (Adam 2000; Moeller 1999) and an unremitting source of concern for patients. The influenza epidemic of the winter of 1999/2000 demonstrated how vulnerable the NHS is and how fascinated the media and public are with health care provision. Relatively recent health scares, such as BSE and nvCJD, multidrug resistant TB (MDRTB), HIV and AIDS, indicate how susceptible we are to the vagaries of microbes. The conviction of Harold Shipman, as the most prolific mass murderer in UK history, showed how one of the most trusted symbols of the community-the general practitioner-could prove fallible and diabolical. It also highlighted the lack of rigorous professional control among health care practitioners.