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» Big Up the NHS

The NHS- No Panacea but don’t run it down

Steve Smith

‘That will be 500 shillings sir’I was born in post-colonial Kenya to a middle class family. I remember each time we saw the GP (luckily very infrequently), usually for a vaccination or a minor ailment, after the appointment, the receptionist would say that will be 500 shillings (5 pounds) or whatever the current rate was to see the doctor. £5 may not sound like a lot, but for a labourer may be a week’s wages to put things into context. Kenya gave me a lot, I was lucky to have a private education and we were able to afford health-care. Many of the people I knew were not able to see a doctor simply because they could not afford it. I came to the UK to study Medicine and have worked for the NHS now for 21 years. Accordingly to the Daily Mail, I am the ultimate double whammy (an immigrant female doctor who is also a mother…..)- So perhaps you may not take notice of what I have to say about the NHS but please do read on. Is the NHS perfect? No it is not, grumpy receptionists and dirty hospital bathrooms and annoying car-parks can happen in any system, have all the hotels you have been in been perfect? This is because they have nothing to do with the system itself. They’re management issues, human nature issues, and they happen everywhere. Instead of dissing the system, shall we consider what’s good about the NHS? 1. Nobody dies from lack of income – In the NHS, everyone qualifies for treatment regardless of where they are from and what they do or do not do. It is immaterial whether you are white or black, straight or gay or what your religious background is. 2. The NHS is truly one of the most socialist — almost Soviet — healthcare models that a country could possible choose. Unlike the health systems in France, Germany, and most of the rest of the developed world, it is totally government-run, almost totally centrally-controlled, and supported entirely through taxation. 3. It is also the single largest employer in Europe- no mean feat and not easy to run- it does nor on the proviso that there is profit to be made from human suffering- it exists to ease suffering. With size, come problems and yet is incredible that every single day so many patients are discharged well, are dialyzed well and recover from complex surgery well. Is it any surprise that sometimes consultation times are cut short and sometimes it takes a little longer than it should to get results. 4. Healthcare is not dictated by beaurocrats or insurance policies and if patients need to stay in for 7 days to complete their treatment then so be it. People can choose jobs on what they wish to do rather than what sort of insurance policy they will qualify for from their employers. 5. People can go and see the doctor when they start to feel ill- treatment is free at the point of entry and because of this, serious progression of minor ailments can be prevented. 6. The people have a say in their treatment and the Government will bow down to pressure- remember Herceptin some years ago? Yes the postcode lottery exists but will having private health-care mitigate this? Imagine trying to vie an individual private company for medication or a treatment- it would never happen. I could go on about the benefits of the NHS but I will end by saying this. I grew up without a NHS- I would hate for my children to grow up without one. Often, we don’t realise the value of what we have until it’s long gone. I signed up to work for the NHS and many doctors in the UK including myself would not be able to deliver the health-care we do without the NHS. Big Up the NHS- because if you the people who work in it and use is wont- then no-one will. Jyoti Baharani

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