Monday 1 January 2024

Have doctors always been so greedy?


I grew up in a small village in Aberdeenshire. There was one doctor. It was usually possible to get an appointment quickly. If someone was really ill, he would come round and visit. He lived in an ordinary house. Drove an ordinary car. His kids went to the same school as I did. He was well off, but no more so than the bank manager or a senior teacher.

I could have been a doctor. Friends of mine at school who were of moderate ability became doctors. They were the sort that worked steadily at school, but never had an original thought about anything. The medics I knew at university were the same. They had to work hard and learn all the nerves of the body, but they were the same types as in Doctor in the House (1954). A little above agriculture students, but not much. Hearty rugby playing types, but not intellectuals.

You need to be a plodder to be a doctor, you don’t need to have any originality or creativity. Let alone genius. Heaven forbid that you have an original thought, you might kill someone.

I didn’t want to be a doctor, because I am squeamish, and I thought the subject was boring and not worth studying. I didn’t want to spend years rote learning about bones and muscles. It is far more important to me that I spent my life thinking and writing and reading interesting books. But financially there is no question that studying medicine is by far the easiest route to making a fortune.

There is no other course of study which the moderately able can do which guarantees eventual riches if you plod along, don’t grope the nurses and don’t kill too many patients accidentally or on purpose.

A lawyer has to compete to win fees. A merchant banker has to make money for his firm. A full professor with an intellect beyond any doctor you will ever come across won’t earn close to what an ordinary GP earns.

Now this GP can only be contacted by phone and if you are very lucky and he thinks he just might need to see you, he might just grant you an appointment in a fortnight. Soon we will have to touch our forelocks to get even that.

We are all supposed to be grateful for the disgraceful treatment that we get from the NHS because our wonderful doctors and nurses are angels and archangels. But sorry folks that stuff about the NHS being the envy of the world is beginning to not be believed by ordinary people.

Doctors deserve to be well paid, but they don’t deserve the pay of merchant bankers because they are paid by the state.

If someone goes into business, he takes a risk. He might lose all his money. If he instead makes a profit good luck to him.

But you can’t expect to make a fortune just because you worked hard at university and then got a safe job that is important. Other jobs which pay next to nothing are equally important. Other jobs require longer and far harder courses, which most doctors lack the intellect to pass.

Why should ordinary taxpayers pay you a fortune just because you learned about the bones in the body? Why indeed should doctors earn vastly more than nurses just because they got slightly better qualifications at school? I understand that doctors might study a bit longer and have a bit more responsibility, but do they really deserve twice as much as nurses or more likely three or four times as much?

There is a shortage of doctors, but this is an artificial shortage. The government could sensibly build more medical schools. There are any number of moderately able school pupils who could study medicine and they all could be paid at a similar level to say senior teachers. This was how it was when the NHS started. You went into medicine because you had a vocation rather than to get rich.

I understand why doctors are touchy about this. They honestly think that even though they already have more than everyone they treat they still deserve even more. But I’m sorry you don’t and your continual demands for more when you already have better financial prospects than almost anyone else are going down like we went ah, and you stuck a stethoscope down our throats.

Oh, poor junior doctors with a starting salary of £32,000. What long hours we work. But ten years later rather a lot of you earn salaries like merchant bankers and the doctor’s car park has rather a lot of Porche Cayennes. Quite a lot of the GPs find they only need to work two or three days a week as the salary is good enough to go part time.

Doctor who are mothers can treat their job as something you do between looking after the baby while everyone else works five days a week and the baby is in the nursery.

If junior doctors have to work long hours train more so you have to work normal hours. But you wouldn’t want that would you as then you might not get the Porche ten years later.

No this has to stop. We get a disgraceful service from the NHS. We can’t see a doctor because the whole budget of the NHS goes on salaries and greed.

Elderly people would be well advised not to go anywhere near a hospital as the doctor will bump you off the first chance he gets. We have a bed shortage don’t you know.

Every year there is a winter crisis, but it is never the fault of the people who actually work for the NHS. All they ever want is more money from the rest iof us.

Why should we pay you more to treat us even worse than you used to?

If I ever got seriously ill, I would go to a country where the doctors earn a fraction of what they earn here, but where they are better qualified and more importantly available.

So, no I don’t think you should get a pay rise. The only way to improve the NHS is to cut the inflated salaries paid to doctors. You don’t deserve to get rich from the taxes of people who get paid vastly less than you.

During the pandemic the people who were most necessary to me were supermarket workers who spent their days wearing masks and if they were lucky behind a plastic screen. They kept us going on the minimum wage, while none of us could get anywhere near a doctor’s surgery or a hospital. So, who deserves a pay rise? You who are already wealthy and will soon be even wealthier or them?

No one who is paid by the taxpayer should earn more than twice average earnings. No one should expect to get rich from healing the sick.

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