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As an NHS doctor, my diagnosis of May’s premiership is that she is merely a symptom of a crumbling system

She exits, but the harsh reality of austerity remains

Aislinn Macklin-Doherty
Friday 07 June 2019 14:21 BST
Why is Theresa May still prime minister?

As an NHS doctor, making a diagnosis is quite an important part of my job. Central to it in fact. One has to process and put together information while providing care to your patients. Attention to detail is critical. For many of us working within the NHS therefore, it has been abundantly clear that the diagnosis for Theresa May has been terminal for some time. But where did it all go wrong? Was it always destined to end like this? What could have been done?

Watching her face crumple and tears fall as she defended her claim to have “tackled Britain’s burning injustices”, as well as saying she had proudly served the country she loved, surely only the coldest of hearts could not have pity for a woman who had done her very best at the worst of times?

Well let me answer in the only way I know how: honestly, Theresa May is a mere symptom of the problem. The diagnosis is much greater and much more devastating than this one tragic figure. What we appear to be all bearing witness to is the total decay of political integrity and vision.

We now live in a world where our so called leaders are devoid of principle, immune to responsibility and seem only to prioritise their own interests, power and most importantly private profit above all.

Theresa May is exhibit one. The woman who has supposedly tackled “burning injustices” has consciously implemented measures to ensure inequality has soared, overseen childhood and old-age poverty skyrocket, had life expectancy fall under watch, ordered the Home Office to send out racist, xenophobic anti-immigration “Go Home” vans, and who oversaw a “hostile environment” policy that led to the deportation of many of the Windrush generation.

The fact that this woman can shed tears of pride for her achievements is baffling. Her words are meaningless when the content is so at odds with reality.

Every day I bear witness to real pain and human suffering as a result of austerity in the NHS. Economic choices that, according to leading researchers, have led to the deaths of thousands. Those of us in the NHS know only too well the devastating effects of her party’s political choices to strip back and open up our healthcare system to the market.

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We are the ones picking up the pieces when record numbers of beds are lost, hospitals are shut down, our colleagues are burnt out working harder and longer for less, and our patients are subject to agonising waits. Many – only those that can afford it – are being forced to pay to go private, creating a two-tier system.

The current state of the NHS is the absolute epitome of the choices being made at the hands of those in charge.

So as an NHS doctor I must warn you now: the symptoms are clear. Theresa May has succumbed but the real disease remains. The slow decline of politics has been evolving for some decades now. And it won’t end well. Unless of course we want to do something about it.

Because the unique thing about this particular illness is that the cure lies with us. All of us need to start demanding clear and urgent political change and must start demanding it now if we are to stand a chance.

For me it is simple. It starts with prioritising the health of the nation. Investing in people not profit. A high quality publicly run, comprehensive healthcare system fit for all. We did it once in times of real darkness. Let the end of May mean that our NHS can once again be the spark of hope that brings our political system back to health.

Aislinn Macklin is an NHS oncologist

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