My late father, a private doctor and GP, was a mild non-confrontational man. Once though a young strident cousin of my mother was holding forth that private medicine was unethical in a democratic society and should be abolished. My father turned to her and said “You have as much chance of abolishing private health care as prostitution.”
Moving to the coast, I enrolled with a GP practice. On both visits I had to wait for an hour beyond my appointment time with the great unwashed, encounter rude, unhelpful receptionists, a rushed GP looking into her computer and lectures on life style, all of which I could do without. Through some local friends I was given the name of a private doctor whom I saw for the second time yesterday.
His receptionist greeted me with a smile, the waiting room had comfy armchairs and was quiet, and on the dot of 10-20 the tubby Dr P greeted me. The purpose of my visit was to run through my self-administered blood pressure results after upping the medication. He decided to take mine and this was 140, slightly above the norm. Normally my first reading is much higher which once, for a practice GP nurse, caused total panic. Of course first readings are normally the highest and best ignored but she did not seem to appreciate this. I then asked if he could do anything about my blocked ears. The National Health has decided in its infinite wisdom that this should no longer be treated by syringing. Dr P was dismissive of this and in two minutes all wax had gone and I could hear again. A rugby man, we still had time to talk of the George North concussion. He told me a story of in his playing days for Cirencester – I had him down as a feisty prop – in which a teammate lay at the bottom of a scrum helpless. An air ambulance was summoned as he had no movement below the neck. In the hospital the radiologist inserted a plate gently below his neck for x-rays, he went hot all over and then all movement returned. He had dislocated a vertebrae and this fortuitously had been restored.
The whole of this cost me £60. I did not even have to do further battle with the local pharmacy who steadfastly refuse an emergency supply of medication as he gave me a prescription to a local chemist. The Irish pharmacist could not have been more helpful.
The good doctor even does visits. I reminded him of the joke “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” …”What do you have to eat to make him visit?”
I told him too of the words of an eminent ear nose and throat surgeon at a dinner I held in my parents honour and memory. “Medicine is both an art and a science. With all the advances in science we have forgotten the art and no one practised that better than your father.”
Yes, my father had it right. Private medicine will and never should be abolished.