Letters: Who is caring for the health service?

WITH the president of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow recently highlighting the impending availability of doctors fully trained and accredited to consultant level who will be ready and willing to treat the Scottish population, it is worth remarking that the Scottish health service continues to be administered by nurses.

This is despite the changed administration since my previous letter to your publication on this topic (24 September, 2006).

Recently the press has carried articles, from within nursing, that nurse training is inadequate to produce nurses and has taken the “caring” out of the profession. It is difficult to imagine that it is adequate to produce health strategists, managers and substitute doctors. That, however, is the current status.

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The medical profession’s input into running and designing services is suppressed. Token doctors in hospital boards and decision-making groups are picked by nurses for their compliance in believing that a full medical training is not a pre-requisite for diagnosing and treating illnesses and conditions.

They are increasingly unrepresentative of the mainstream doctors with whom they are falsely associated and who are straitjacketed into silence by contracts and policies.

Terms including health professional, care provider, clinician and even doctor (PhDs in paramedical disciplines) disguise that a doctor of medicine is not seeing you. An envisaged lack of availability of medical doctors seems to have been overstated to allow others to be accommodated at the instigation of politicians unaware that frequently it turns out that medical doctors are more cost-effective than lower-paid alternatives and are there to cover 24 x 7.

Doctors will soon (2012) have to be re-accredited and re-licensed to continue to diagnose and treat patients. Nothing has been envisaged for those who were never accredited but currently diagnose and treat, or have managed the Scottish NHS to a very low level of morale, and confused waiting times to see a doctor with waiting times to see whoever.

Hedley J Easter, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Bathgate