Too often, we don’t appreciate what we’ve got until we don’t have it. My elective in Uganda opened up my eyes to the benefit and importance of the NHS. There, a patient would present with three problems, but we could only treat one of them, as that is all they could afford to pay for.
Unfortunately, that meant that often long term conditions, such as high blood pressure, went untreated, with the resulting heart attacks, heart failure etc, because at the time of consultation, the patient’s biggest issue was pain, which was much more immediate.
We are now seeing mostly people, myself included, who don’t know what it was like before the NHS was in existence. It was designed to be free at the point of need, but expectations are rising, as are the costs of drugs, all whilst numbers of staff are decreasing. But in all of this, there are some amazing people working in the NHS, and it is this dedication and camaraderie that keeps the NHS going.
Health is a devolved issue and it was said when the new GP contract came into being recently, that the NHS in Scotland and England are now so different that our contract couldn’t be implemented cross border. But wherever we work, it’s the people that make it.
When I was choosing a GP surgery partnership to join, one of the things that was most important to me was the banter I can have with my partners. In any practice, you have a variety of problems – different demographics, social issues, supply issues of medications, financial issues as we try to run the practice as efficiently as possible (GP practices are small businesses, sub-contracted by the NHS), different expectations from patients and staff, ways to implement the new GP contract, piles of paperwork – but if I can go to coffee time with my partners at the surgery, offload a problem, work through issues together, and have a laugh and some banter, then I’ve found what I’ve been looking for since I first wanted to be a GP in my 4th year medical school placement.
They say in Glasgow that “people make Glasgow” – well, I think that’s even more true of working as one of Scotland’s Doctors.
None of us can do this ourselves, “people make the NHS”. It’s not perfect, but it’s where we are and what we’ve got, and we should fight to save it, and improve it. I wouldn’t change where I work, or what I do. It’s not always easy, but what job is? Every day is different, it’s rewarding, it’s challenging, and it’s a lifelong journey of learning.
And so I’m proud to say that I’m one of #ScotlandsDoctors.
Dr Anna Roberts
You can also read Dr Anna Robert’s other blogs, Why I chose to study medicine, Why I chose to become a GP, and What advice would you give to others about entering medicine?.
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