Yesterday I met with a private doctor locally I was recommended. I have a GP but on the two occasions I visited the surgery I had to wait over 45 minutes.. Recommendation is a powerful resource but in checking up on the doctor personally I was heartened that he studied and qualified at the Middlesex Hospital as did my father and his father. Middlesex men have a certain stamp: they are conscientious, have an excellent patient manner, know their stuff but are never arrogant. The good doctor conformed to this prototype and I was immediately impressed. He did not stare into his computer as many GPs do, he was not rushed, he did not do any tests, he merely listened carefully. Listening is great art, some have said a necessary one in my case and company. One of my favourite people, a Scottish woman called Grania, worked for the Samaritans and now has her own and successful counselling business is one of the best listeners I know. She never interrupts, recalls every detail with astonishimg accuracy (she told me she keeps 1500 files in her head) and offers calm measured advice. This doctor was in the same mould.
Sadly the Middlesex Hospital is no more. Twice I went here to have my life saved but, when the new University College Hospital was built, they raized the Middlesex to the ground. The London teaching hospitals all had their own identity. It was said for example of a St Thomas man “You can tell him anywhere, but you can’t tell him anything.” Yet my father liked their hearty manner and bluff approach whilst a Guys man, he said, could be snooty.
The problem with modern medicine is that it has developed as a science at the expense of being an art. My late father would listen,ask the right questions, make his diagnosis and knew to which consultants to go. You could not ask for more. This good doctor went through my medication and condition. Two more things I like. His wife and daughter workd in the practice . . I like a family business. Secondly, he shared my dislike of medical advice dispensed by the know all nutritionist or life coach, often to be found in a gym. These charlatans did not go to any the respected medical school and epitomise the saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I can recall my father scoffing at some radios lay doctor “he may have a mellifluous voice and soft manner but he does have the first idea about anatom”. Herbalists, homeopaths, life coaches are the modern snake oil salesmen . Recently I have been writing on financial matters but I now tell my readers if you want to live long and well, get yourself a Middlesex man. While stocks last.