Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat itBMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e1159 (Published 15 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1159
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I would like to add a footnote to this interesting reminder about the value of history.
My late father qualified as a doctor in 1928 and worked in some large hospitals situated in areas of significant deprivation. When he left the army in 1948 he became a GP; because he had been kept in the army longer than many doctors the choice of jobs and practices was limited and, somewhat to my mother's disappointment, he became the GP for an industrial Welsh village that had not had a doctor for many years. A lifelong Tory, he was quite clear that the establishment of the NHS had brought major benefits, not just to patients but also to the medical profession. He could never understand why many of his colleagues opposed this development - for him it represented liberation to practice medicine, freed from the burden of having to issue bills, collect payments or worry about how to give free care to people who could not afford to pay but were too proud to accept charity. As the years went by it also meant that he saw fewer patients arriving with diseases too advanced to treat because they had been unable to incur the expense of medical care. When he died, after 26 years working in that village, a large proportion of the population turned out to line his funeral route.
I realise this all sounds a bit like Dr Finlay's Casebook, but all this happened well within the memory of many people still living and working in this country. Moral of the story? Doctors who wish for private sector 'freedom', insurance-based health coverage and the like might, perhaps be careful what they wish for.
Competing interests: No competing interests