Many years ago at my graduation ceremony from medical school, the Professor of Medicine had these words for all present during his speech.
"As you go forth into the world, remember that one day you will need to be involved with politics, for it is political policies that have the greatest and most lasting impact on each and everyone of your patients.
As a doctor, you will have the opportunity to influence the care of thousands of patients during the lifetime of your practise. Political policies on the other hand impacts on millions of patients directly, and for many generations."
The National Health Service is one of those rare political policies achieved by consensus with society at large, which seeks to benefit society wholly and all those who dedicated their life and energy to practise and serve in it.
The NHS is a perfect circle encompassing the very best values of a civilised and compassionate society, which puts the interests of the sick, weak and vulnerable first and foremost, cared for by the best society and the commonwealth have to offer, with very modest costs by any standards
As Doctors, whether we realise it or not, whether we want it or not, we all have political capital entrusted to us by society. Because it is capital derived from relationships of trust, it has to be used wisely and can only be used once.
The time has now come for this capital to be used, for the sake of all our patients, the future of young doctors and for the sake of medicine itself, practised as a selfless professional service to society.
In this form, it can only exist and flourish in the original ethos of caritas of the NHS.
This page gives tributes to the doctors, surgeons, nurses and patients who are speaking out for the NHS.
The time is now. The need critical.
I hope you will join the rest of us in standing up for the National Health Service.
We leave you with these words by Aneurin Bevan from over half a century ago:
"Doubtless other defects can be found and further improvements made. What emerges, however, in the final count, is the massive contribution the British Health Service makes to the equipment of a civilized society. It has now become a part of the texture of our national life.
No political party would survive that tried to destroy it.
Since this chapter was written, new legislation on the National Health Service has been announced. It confirms our worst fears. If they are carried out the proposals will mutilate the Service in many of its most important activities.
There is, however, ample evidence that the British people are reacting sharply against them. This sustains my contention that no Government that attempts to destroy the Health Service can hope to command the support of the British people.
The great argument about priorities is joined and from it a Free Health Service is bound to emerge triumphant."
(Excerpts from Bevan, A. 1952. “A Free Health Service”. In “In Place of Fear”: 77-97)
- Who's afraid of the private sector, Guardian Online.
- Lansley heckled in Downing Street protest.
- Critical doctors 'locked out' of Downing Street NHS meeting.
- NHS reforms: seven in 10 hospital doctors reject bill.
- Doctors bid to unseat 50 MPs in revenge over NHS Bill.
Page Updated: 8 March, 2013Tweet