All the time in the world


By Stephen Pollard
December 8, 2010
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This comment has been left on Comment is Free today, under a piece about the NHS reforms:

My Father was a GP. He sure as hell
didn't earn millions, not even close. He did, however, work 24-hours a day,
seven days a week.

Blimey. I'm intrigued how he managed to eat or sleep, let alone father a child.

(I'm indebted to Leo McKinstry for pointing this out to me.)

COMMENTS

Jabotinsky

Fri, 12/10/2010 - 11:11

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2 points

He is in fact quite correct. For the first couple or so decades that the health service was in existence general practitioners were on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and this was in the days before locum services (not that they could have afforded to use them back then). They were expected to minister to the medical needs of 4000 patients, to deliver babies, to run at least two surgeries a day (in many cases four) six days a week, and to attend calls for any medical reason day and night. It was very rare that they would have an undisturbed nights sleep, and this was after working for at least 12 hours. At that time their incomes were low and no payments were made for ancillary staff or the purchase or rental of equipment or surgeries.

It is not surprising that many doctors, including my great-uncle, were driven to an early grave by this. A leading surgeon who was one of my great-uncle's contemporaries used to say about the appalling treatment of doctors at that time (he once told me that he was paid the equivalent of 30 shillings for a major operation) that yes it was terrible, but at least the people appreciated the sacrifices. Of course, he was completely wrong - they didn't give a damn. They still don't give a damn. Steven Pollard is the living proof of that. I think it would have been far better if they had all emigrated to the US, Canada and Australia and left their fellow citizens to fend for themselves. Yes, today the pay of general practioners is insanely high and their workload relatively light, but I see it as sweet revenge for all the years when their professional forebears were treated like shit.

Joshua18


Yehuda Erdman

Fri, 12/10/2010 - 12:23

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0 points

Jabotinsky
Are you related to the famous Jabotinsky of the Revisionist Zionist movement?
I agree with some of your sentiments but you have been somewhat extreme. Firstly, as someone who worked all his adult life in the NHS (from around 1970) and participated in on-call, it doesn't follow that you are constantly working.
Secondly you have to compare the early years of the NHS with what was in place before. Either you were rich and paid for all medical treatment or you were somewhat poorer and just paid what you could for a very cut down medical service. The very poor either died or would end up in the Workhouse. Edgware General when I first worked there still utilised the building which had previously been a Workhouse as the main Hospital block.
In actual fact the creation of the NHS in 1948 was the single most admirable action probably of any post-war Government and became the model for many other countries who deeply admired the British system. Today other models exist and even in this country clinicians could make a whole heap of money in private practise. The USA model of private health insurance was totally corrupt and left over 50 million American citizens with virtually no health care. It is a huge achievement of Obama to have finally broken the cartel that refused to reform the system. To their shame this includes the Republican party, the medical profession, the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical conglomerates who between them had milked the American nation of billions of dollars.
What I have written is fact but your opinion is obviously different.


Jabotinsky

Fri, 12/10/2010 - 13:09

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1 point

"Firstly, as someone who worked all his adult life in the NHS (from around 1970) and participated in on-call, it doesn't follow that you are constantly working."

It depends on how you define "working". I am not about to repeat myself. My post above makes the position very clear. Is it possible that you didn't take your job very seriously or were in a very junior position? In any event, from what I understand the very worst days were in the 1950s and 1960s ("For the first couple or so decades that the health service was in existence...").

"Secondly you have to compare the early years of the NHS with what was in place before."

Yes, yes, the downtrodden poor. I place your thoughts on the comedy shelf somewhere between The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist and Das Kapital. The fact is even if I were a fanatical left-winger and approved of everything you write, it wouldn't negate anything I say above: doctors, and particularly GPs (after all, despite what I have written above about that surgeon, specialists had had "their mouths stuffed with gold" by Bevan and Cohen - well, kind of) had been massively exploited by the British people for a tiny reward and little thanks.

"What I have written is fact but your opinion is obviously different."

Au contraire - as I have just pointed out, given the particular argument, you are in reality almost totally on the wrong track. And what you claim to be facts are a mixture of distortions, fabrications and political flim-flam. Beyond that, to wish on the American people a system every bit as inefficient and morally bankrupt as the NHS is really rather callous of you. Then again, that's exactly what I would have expected from the Chair of Meretz UK and a supporter of Tony Lerman. I am just grateful that the Israeli electorate have treated your party with the contempt it deserves.

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