Personal Views Personal views

The NHS revisited

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 19 May 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1255
  1. Chris Ellis, general practitioner
  1. Pietermaritzburg, KwaZuluWatal, South Africa

    Iwas one of those doctors who emigrated from Great Britain in the late 1960s, now over 30 years ago. At that time the NHS seemed to have reached its lowest point since its inception in 1948. I have been in practice in Africa for over 25 years.

    Since emigrating I have hardly ever returned to England, so recently I decided to do some general practice locums and get the feel and rhythm of the NHS again. I worked in five London general practices and one in Essex. The man from the locum agency, who acted rather like a controller from a John Le Carré spy novel, would ring me up and send me off.

    Practice seemed to have become part time, bitty, sessional, and agency driven

    My first locum was for a singlehanded general practitioner in south London. Over half the practice patients were either on housing or income support. I had forgotten about the sheer drudgery of inner city life. The lonely aged person's ceremonial visit to the doctor. The …

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