Views & Reviews Personal view

So, you want to know what's wrong with the NHS?

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 08 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:994

I sat in the waiting room, feeling self conscious. I am usually on the other side of the door, inside the interview room. Now, I was outside, waiting. After five minutes the consultant came out; the big man, the one in charge. We were NHS. He was having trouble interviewing my mother: would I, as a psychiatrist, help him please?

I went into the room. My mum was on the edge of her seat, looking towards me hopefully, giving me that look she had, assuming that everything would be all right now (because “my son” had entered the room). Trusting me. It was then that I learnt what it is like to elicit the first rank symptoms of schizophrenia from your own kith and kin, your own flesh and blood. The great man couldn't manage it. He had the cufflinks but not the questions. He had the style but not the substance. I had the greatest pain I had ever felt in my life. A virtual knife went through my chest as I asked her about the voices, about the thoughts …

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