Those most ill tend not to be the ones complaining about the NHS

Sometimes private clinics wouldn't bother suggesting a cheap drug like paracetamol when they could profit from prescribing more expensive versions

Share
Related Topics

The NHS is the envy of the world...although apparently not for many Polish people living in the UK.

Such is their dissatisfaction with our health care system, many of my Polish patients go home to seek medical care and two Polish doctors have set up their own private clinic in London which, apparently, is thriving.

I could quote data showing how good our health care outcomes are in comparison to other nations, but for most people, personal experiences outweigh any statistical evidence that I can offer.

One of my Polish patients asked me why doctors on the NHS only prescribe paracetamol. The answer is of course that we don't. I prescribed him paracetamol for his slightly sore knee and explained that it would get better on its own. He told me that In Poland he would have got an x-ray and seen an orthopaedic surgeon. I also prescribed him paracetamol for his viral sore throat. In Poland his doctor would have apparently performed a chest x-ray and given antibiotics.

I have prescribed him only simple pain killers for his ailments because they are benign and due to the amazing self healing power of the human body, they will get better all on their own. He is a fit 28 year-old who doesn't need extensive medical investigations for his minor health complaints, but were a privately run Polish health clinic to be set up in our local town, I suspect he would happily part with £70 to see a non-NHS GP.

I'm sure there are private doctors – I’m not saying this applies to the one mentioned here - who wouldn't bother suggesting a cheap drug like paracetamol when they could profit from prescribing numerous more expensive versions. It would also be lucrative to order as many expensive investigations as possible. These should be performed quickly as once the patient gets better, he may not be quite so willing to part with his credit card details.

I do have one Polish patient who isn't quite so critical of the NHS. She is only 23 years-old and has been working here as a waitress. She came to see me one afternoon with a lump on her arm. It was hard and craggy and felt attached to the bone. I referred her urgently on the cancer referral pathway and within 10 days she had seen a specialist who unfortunately agreed with my diagnosis. She had a rare aggressive bone cancer called an osteosarcoma and it needed urgent treatment. She was sent to the royal national orthopaedic hospital in London where she received top notch cancer treatment and the sort of specialist surgery that only a few places in the world can offer. She is now back to work with only a small scar on her forearm to remind her of her recent brush with death. She went back home to Warsaw last month to take her notes and scans to her family doctor for his opinion. He told her that the management for her condition in Poland would have been to amputate her arm below the elbow.

Those most ill tend not to be the ones who are complaining loudly about the NHS. Someone who has been hit by a bus or is being treated for cancer, tend to sing praises for the treatment they receive. The private clinics often steer well clear of those who are seriously unwell as there is no money to be made from them. I can't imagine a team of Polish doctors offering private cancer services or setting up an independent A&E department. The private sector are however happily cherry picking the fortunate majority, who are basically fairly well, but are often disgruntled with the NHS.

A private health clinic recently asked me if I'd consider leaving the NHS to become a private GP. There were two reasons why I said no. The first was that if patients are really sick, our local NHS services are brilliant. Secondly, I became a doctor to provide sick people with what they need rather than make money giving rich people what they want.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own