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THE NHS AT 60 - "BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW"

01-07-2008

As the NHS reaches pensionable age this week, Health Minister Lord Darzi is attempting to breathe new life into the system, with a new patients charter. Dr David Nicholl offers an insiders view of the Health Service at 60.

At times I think I must sound more like Dr Victor Meldrew when it comes to the NHS, can you believe it? Yet with the 60th anniversary of the NHS, it really is something worth celebrating.

I have worked in the NHS for 20 years, my father was a medical student at its inception and most members of my family work in the NHS in some capacity. I can however say in all honesty, no matter much all of us have whinged about the NHS, there are major problems in all healthcare systems either in Europe or in the US.

Better the devil you know perhaps. Recently I had to see a patient on intensive care in a major private hospital, the facilities were not a scratch on any NHS intensive care unit I have seen in the last 10 years.

I’m sure the food was nice, but I know where I would want to be if I was on a ventilator. Whether the NHS will be safe in the next 60 years with private finance initiatives, polyclinics and the rest is another matter.

Don’t take my word though, I only work there. But it is worth bearing in mind that doctors opposed the NHS when it first started. Sometimes doctor does not know best, but in this case, I do think the NHS truly is the best and most economic way of delivering high quality healthcare. I look forward to the future as I look back to celebrate the past.

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