Mumbles of a Medic: The Saviours of a Failing Healthcare System


Our new Doctor-to-be columnist, Sahaj Kaur, shows her gratitude to the overworked, tired doctors, who, despite having to deal with the daily stress of the government’s cuts, still love the work that they do and inspire younger generations.

The detrimental effects on our National Health Service from the inconsiderate cuts and spending by the coalition government are unquestionable. The NHS is increasingly falling into the clutches of the private sector due to the constant cuts to hospital funding; Andy Burnham ‘vows’ to stop this process if Labour gains power but we’ve already seen how strong David Cameron’s promises have held up. Hospitals face cuts to their funding and resources, whereas the numbers of patients they treat are growing at an alarming rate. This is an obvious recipe for disaster, the effects of which are already being felt by many.

It is easy to glance over the long figure cuts but we never fully realise what the consequences are, and whom they will directly affect. Undoubtedly, the quality of patient care suffers (but that’s a different issue). Resources for patient care are being pulled and stretched thin to breaking point, the biggest being the staff: the doctors, junior doctors, nurses, etc. We can’t quite imagine the stress which being a doctor entails. It’s bad enough as it is, without the extra weight of the system messing them about. It is a well-known fact that doctors are overworked; they are given shorter shifts but have to have to do the same amount of work. This is illogical. For night shifts, a mandatory twenty minute break is imposed every six hours of the shift. Twenty minutes? It doesn’t take a Med. student to see that this is not an ideal situation. Even in one day of my work experience, I have seen that doctors don’t even stop to take a lunch break, most not even eating at all. I cannot imagine any of us working from the morning, well into the evening without the comfort of a chocolate pudding or a fresh slice of pizza! On top of this, the British Medical Association reports that Junior Doctors are not given enough training and are often forced to complete tasks out of their competencies.

The gruelling and tiring work that our doctors do is clearly evident, and yet justice is not being delivered. It is therefore no surprise that the rates of both alcohol and substance abuse and depression are high amongst healthcare professionals. This leads me to question the standard of the work and the care delivered by these doctors. The bottom line here is that the NHS is being run by individuals who do not know and do not care about the requirements the hospitals, patients, and staff need to function. The management is not sensitive to these needs, a notable example being Shaun Clee (the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire’s NHS Trust) who tweeted about his on-the-spot purchase of a yacht after cutting hospital resources and staff salaries, as well as making many redundant. Needless to say, he was not very popular after that!

My belief is that doctors need to have a stronger voice in the running of the NHS for it to reach its maximum potential. Despite how unfairly they are treated, it is uplifting to talk to doctors and discover that they still love what they do and wouldn’t give it up for anything. This shows the sheer satisfaction which our doctors gain from their work – they are the saviours of a failing healthcare system.

Photography: on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

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3 Responses to Mumbles of a Medic: The Saviours of a Failing Healthcare System

  1. Harry says:

    This is an interesting article, but I struggle to see how the private sector getting involved in medicine is likely to affect the quality in the ways you suggest – after all, private sector doctors have by far the most control over the running of their healthcare system. What a statist NHS does, after all, is monopolise the market with a dictatorial say-so in who gets what treatment by whom and when – and the numbers suggest we simply can’t afford to give everyone free everything much longer. Unless we make tough decisions, we will see the NHS explode in a way that means precisely nobody will get healthcare – probably not a great idea. So, to clarify: is it your standpoint that we can never have any cuts to healthcare, and we must simply tax people to breaking point to pay for free liposuction treatments for the obese, and stomach pumpings for binge drinkers?

    • Sahaj says:

      Thanks Harry for your informative opinion but I would just like to ask you to hold your horses right there; privatisation of the NHS is an issue that I will discuss in greater depth in my next column as I have firsthand seen the detrimental effects of a private healthcare system on the poor.
      Although I agree it is frustrating to see the NHS funds being wasted on people who don’t really deserve it; it would undermine the basic morals on which the NHS was founded to choose and pick who ‘deserves’ the treatment, we do not have the right to pass judgements upon each other.
      It’s a very common misconception to think that the NHS is running out of money; although that seems to be the case, more money isn’t what’s needed. What’s needed is better management who channel the money into the correct places not for creating more useless ‘managerial’ positions, even though the intention is good, it never ends up working out. Managers can’t understand what is needed on the shop floor, so as I said, in order for the NHS to function some of the shop floor workers such as doctors and nurses need to be brought up the hierarchical managerial line to have their opinion heard, and the NHS bettered. If politicians would finally see sense, perhaps Aneurin Bevan would be turning a little bit less in his grave right now.

      • Harry says:

        Thank you for your response. I absolutely agree that bureaucracy is hideous and gets in the way of the patient-doctor relationship. However, that is exactly what socialist monopolies have always created in gross quantity! New Labour became so obsessed with statistics and improving target areas that they installed about five million layers of checks and balances, just to please the political establishment.

        Since we both agree that bureaucracy should get out of the way, may I ask what your opposition to health vouchers would be? (This is a system advocated by Milton Friedman where every individual/family would receive a voucher for however much the NHS currently spends per patient, which they could then use to pay for a health insurance plan, or store away if they preferred only to use their vouchers for specific treatments etc. Any money left on the voucher can be redeemed at the end of the year as a tax credit.) This is the very definition of getting government out of the way, and as ever relies on the wonders of the private sector to function. I would be delighted to hear your opinion.

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