Medics – tired and underpaid – quit amid health services crisis in Britain

Wednesday August 03 2022
Medics UK

Members of clinical staff work at computers in the Accident and Emergency department of the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan, northwest England on April 2, 2015. A new report by MPs stated that the National Health Service is facing the worst crisis in its history because of chronic personnel problems. PHOTO | AFP

By Gerry Loughran

A national institution of which British people are quite proud is the National Health Service, founded in 1948, over the opposition of many doctors, and free at the point of delivery.

What that means is if a person has a serious health condition, they can travel to the nearest hospital in an NHS ambulance, receive top treatment, including surgery, if necessary, and remain for recuperation. The patient will not be charged a penny.

Obviously, however, this gigantic service must be paid for and that is done mostly by general taxation, plus 20 per cent from a charge known as National Insurance, which is paid by all employers and deducted from workers’ wages.

On the whole, Britons believe that is an acceptable deal … until now, that is.

For as one newspaper headlined this week, ‘NHS Is On Its Knees’.

A new report by MPs stated that the health service is facing the worst crisis in its history because of chronic personnel problems, including a shortfall of 12,000 hospital doctors and more than 50,000 nursing and midwife posts standing empty in England alone.

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The report warned that the shortages had placed patient safety at risk and the government had no credible strategy to solve the situation.

“Persistent understaffing now poses a serious risk for routine and emergency care,” the MPs said.

So why does nobody want to work for the NHS anymore?

One reason is exhaustion, with workers drained by the long pandemic and now working extra hours. The other reason, inevitably, is money.

Two issues are low pay and a recent increase in national insurance contributions.

Many senior doctors responded by cutting their hours or retiring early to reduce their tax bills.

Unions blame the government for mishandling of NHS people, such as offering pay rises below inflation. One official said many staff were leaving because they were underpaid and overworked.

* * *

A wife is terminally ill and in great pain and asks her spouse to end her life. What does he do and what are the consequences?

Assisted suicide is not legal in Britain, but many such cases quietly take place without police action.

That Graham Mansfield, 73, was charged with murder was probably due to the method he chose to end the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Dyanne, 71. He cut her throat.

In an interview with the BBC, Mansfield said what he did was “an act of love” and he would do it again to save his wife from suffering.

He said the couple would have travelled to Switzerland, where euthanasia is legal, but it was the pandemic time of lockdown and they could not travel.

When the cancer spread and his wife begged for death, he declared that he would kill himself, too.

They discussed methods and eventually, he said, “The only thing I can think of that’s swift, even though it’s horrible, is to cut our throats.”

He carried out the act in a screened area of their garden. After his wife, he cut his own throat, only to wake up 12 hours later. He then called the police.

Mansfield made an impassioned appeal for a change in the law to permit assisted dying.

Between April 2009 and March 2022, there were 174 cases recorded as assisted suicide. Of the 174 cases, 115 were not preceded with and 33 cases were withdrawn by the police.