David Cameron is backing his health minister on the proposed reforms to the NHS. These reforms mean that the profit motive irs going to affect decisions that should be made on medical grounds. and they undermine the essence of the NHS. Which was to make health care available to all, rich or poor.
The NHS is not perfect. Never was, never can be. But it is the jewel in Britain’s crown. It is the best health service in the world and the envy of other countries. I owe my life to the NHS, because in 1954 I contacted a fatal illness, tubercular meningitis. My life was saved by my mother’s doctor, Dr Pitman, a scion of the Quaker shorthand family. She came to to see me when I arrived home one Friday evening at the end of the university term with a terrible headache. She came to see me severa9l times that weekend. She came to see me several times that weekend.
Because she cared. The Cameron reforms turn GPs into businessmen.
TB meningitis was incurable until a new drug, izonasid was discovered by an American scientist. I was one of the first to benefit from it in this country.
I could equally say that the NHS nearly killed me. Because the university doctor had told me, that I was suffering from exam stress and should take a couple of aspirins.
Since then I have nearly died three times.
First in the 1970s, when I got pneumonia, treated at home by my GP, Donald Grant, of the Caversham Practice. Because he visited me regularly he realised that I had a nasty disease called strepocochous. and whisked me off to UCH hospital one Sunday afternoon. Donald apologised for nearly killing me.
I told him that he had saved my life.
Second time was in the US in 1980 when I was employed by City University. I had a terribly irritating rash by the time I got to New York. I went to accident and emergency at the hospital, but was refused treatment on the grounds that my insurance did not cover the costs of hospital treatment. My life then was saved by the GP of the friend with whom I was staying. Who correctly diagnosed anphlactic shock. He pumped me with adrenilin.
And I lived to tell this tale.
Third time was a few years later. When I realised that something was terribly wrong. My breathing was very slow and I was thinkly about Keats’ ‘Now more than ever seems it rich to die.’
Instead of dying, I rang the Caversham Practice. And at 2 AM their duty doctor, one Rachael Miller got out of the bed she shared with Jonathan, and came to see me.
She immediately dosed me with adrenalin. She also told me that I should have an emergency pack, in case I was hit by this again.
So that’s why I think Cameron is wrong.
We need GPs who are motivated by their professional concerns.
Not by the profit motive.