Like veterinary surgeons, doctors started in the past to want to follow that life as children due to a love and interest in people, regardless of race, creed or colour.
They were ready to work all hours because of their love of the job. It was their hobby as well as their work.
Politicians thought up the National Health Service during the war so the idea was there post-1945. However, the medics were keen for a service for all after serving from 1939, as the Dr Finlay stories show.
Before the NHS, there had been many clubs, as well as a trade union service, that ran groups to help hard-up people.
There were many rich people who thought doctors could be exploited because of their calling for the work, as I learnt when I was told ‘You must work for less, like the monks of the past, as it’s your calling.’.
This was first said to me in 1953 when I was in training. This is also what our MPs seem to think today.
At that time, I learnt from an injured striking railway stoker that they earned more than a junior houseman, and they were striking for more.
My father’s generation of doctors were totally dedicated and carried on until their 70s and 80s, but the present generation of doctors and nurses are so unhappy and disillusioned by the present attitude of our Government that they are leaving as soon as they can, retiring early and going to work abroad with societies like Medecin Sans Frontiere, where they feel appreciated by the local populations who have so little.
I hear so much unhappiness talked about from the bottom of the job to the top, it has never been like this.
I have had to get members of my family through picket lines, and that is not pleasant for patients.
My mother had to fight her way through in 1979 to get treatment for a sarcoma (a form of cancer) of the left foot in St Thomas’s Hospital, London, and I had to take my dying father, a man who had given 60 years to doctoring, through the pickets in 1982 to the same hospital.
Since the change of government in 1997, there has been disruption from Westminster, which seems to have destroyed the out-of-hours services. These at-home services provided from GP surgeries were stopped and this resulted in sick patients having to be admitted through A&E. It is also the reason that the service is so overstretched as people are going there whether very sick or not.
Now with the Conservatives we have a young man shouting about the weekend death rates. Then he starts on the junior doctors, who are the main hospital doctors of housemen and registrars.
Now Mr Hunt says he is going to enforce his contract on the young doctors. I wonder what happens next?
There is no actual requirement for the men and women in training to work in the National Health Service. They are not apprentices and their education now costs them a lot.
I wonder if any will apply this summer to work with a firm that seems to have so little respect for its workers?
All I can add is, please God, look after the sick as I feel they are in for a very rough year.