For anyone who is in any doubt that the National Health Service in this country is worth preserving I recommend that they read Lionel Shriver’s ‘So Much for That’. Set in the United States, it tackles the grim subject of terminal cancer and the awful reality of paying for the astronomic bills that such a complex health issue presents. The book illustrates the stark, cynical way in which health insurance providers work to fleece hapless patients and their families and serves as a salutary warning.
The pressures on a large organisation such as the NHS can only increase as the number of elderly increases [I include myself in this number]. Despite assuming responsibility for one’s own general health by eating sensibly, exercising regularly, rejecting smoking and attempting to curb alcohol consumption the issues of wear and tear begin to surface. This poses a dilemma I am unable to resolve. Until a few years ago I prided myself on the infrequency of my visits to the GP. Having grown accustomed to this lack of medical intervention in my life I continue to avoid making appointments, even when problems, [such as joint failures] interfere with normal life.
The result of all this procrastination is that problems begin to stack up, providing an even more complicated predicament. This is not good! When I do, eventually make it into the consulting room I find I’ve compiled a ‘list’ of complaints, which I’ve had to prioritise. I describe the main problem and then ask for other issues to be taken into consideration. I can’t help feeling this is a sneaky way to go about a GP appointment, but the alternative would be to schedule several, separate meetings. I imagine these visits in the future, pencilled in on the calendar with depressing frequency as I grow older.
So I prefer my current approach; but what does the average healthcare professional think? Would they rather us wrinklies waited and piled up our complaints in a bulging package of ailments? Or would they prefer to become increasingly familiar with our wrinkly chops as they see us on an almost daily basis?
I am, nevertheless very glad to be able to call on their services, as should we all be. The NHS faces a huge challenge as the population ages, but it is worth preserving, for sure.