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I am an international medical graduate, born and brought up in the United Arab Emirates. A country with its Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, tall buildings, fast cars and endless luxuries - yet when it comes to healthcare it has an entirely private system. It is fragmented, expensive and wasteful, focussed on money not care!
Hospitals operate a policy of: You are having a ST elevation MI but you can't financially afford to have PCI so off you go...? But where?
I spent some time training in India, and there too the health inequalities are staring straight at you. There's a price tag on health and for many around the world it's unaffordable. It's as if they do not deserve a shot at a healthy life. It's as if they do not deserve to live! Indeed we live in the 21st Century!
I am a lover of the NHS, a big fan, a believer. We are so lucky to be part of a health system that puts its patients at its very core.
I recently gave a talk to medical students at my old university; the essence being why choose a career in the UK, why the NHS?
The NHS was created out of the ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. It is based on three core principles:
1. that it meet the needs of everyone
2. that it be free at the point of delivery
3. that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay
We cannot let the healthcare market threaten patient safety, excellence and innovation.
Competition is healthy; it can bring about excellence and innovation. But privatisation is not competition! Privatisation with profit margins is fragmentation, it is divisive! It will be the "death knell" of the NHS.