In most aspects of life, we in the UK are discerning people – we expect to assess the others we deal with, and adjudge their ability to do their job, particularly where it affects our lives. We do this in every area whether or not we have any particular expertise there, don’t we? We shop at the supermarket we trust most, we check-out the builder before getting work done, we get our specs from the optician we think best, we appoint the most competent solicitor to do our will, we choose the finest dentist for teeth treatment, we go to the top hairdresser in town for our hair, we get our car serviced at the best reliable garage, we select the preeminent trustworthy accountant if we are in business, we ask around to find the best plumber, we plonk our money at the most prestigious bank.
So how does it go then when we use a doctor? We have no bleeding idea, do we? It doesn’t matter at what level we are involved in with them at, or how serious things are for us, we still are clueless – oblivious to their training, knowledge, experience, ability, expertise seniority, or anything else, surely? Then we place our future health & very lives in their hands! Why is that you might ask? It is because in Britain doctors are ‘gods’ you see. Peoples have always had gods – the Romans had a vast number of gods to cope with any eventuality (like Jupiter & Juno, Neptune & Minerva, Mars & Venus, Apollo & Diana, Vulcan & Vesta, Mercury & Ceres, et al). But we also have one such set of gods in Britain and they are called ‘Doctors’ – and nobody questions a god do they?
How the heck did this bizarre situation come about then? Well, the arrival of effective pharmaceutical medicines to replace homemade remedies for sickness, plus the ability of drugs to overcome life threatening illnesses, and not forgetting the ability to perform surgery (with much enhanced knowledge) without killing the patient, all helped. Consequently in our current society doctors now walk on water, or so we all think?
Doctors seem to treat us as a lower life – and get away with it, don’t you think (unless you are a private ‘paying’ patient of course!). But who are these people anyway, and how did they get to be doctors, do you think? Well in the UK they will have been especially selected for academic ability (not bedside manner), allowing them to go for say five years to medical school, where they will have studied hard and will have learned quite a bit but still a little in the scope of things, but will have passed a shed load of exams. Then they are actually called doctors, but must spend another year working in a hospital – you will probably have been treated by them (confident fresh faced youngsters pretending to know how to treat you) – and then afterwards they can ‘practice’ as real doctors (and they are in reality just doing that – practicing. How many of us they kill on the way is an unknown fact).
Some of them train further (learn more) to become GPs (whose job subsequently is to deal themselves with relatively minor general medical conditions, whilst recognising more serious problems that need the patient to be treated in a hospital by specialists), while the others work and train further in hospitals, specialise, and have to pass further exams to become ‘competent’ in their field of doctoring – hence the majority of doctors you deal with in hospital won’t have made it yet (but none of them ever tells you their level, do they?). The only doctors in hospitals you should rely on are Registrars (who will have at least passed all the exams (over a further five or more years period), but are still ‘under training’ to become Consultants), and also the real Consultants themselves, as they have actually made it to the top and know what they are doing (supposedly!) – these are the only ones who have at long last passed top scrutiny, you see? Even then you have to be careful, because medicine is so progressive & specialised these days that if you have a particularly difficult medical condition, you need to be referred to a specifically qualified Consultant at a specialist hospital (but they don’t always tell you that, do they?).
With UK trained doctors, you can know where you are, but with overseas trained doctors you are in limbo. They get registered here, but often their command of the English language proves suspect, and their training in some countries may not have been as rigorous as here. Have you ever dared to ask a doctor where they trained?
When your garage says it will take a couple of days to replace your clutch do we say OK, or “no I need it done tomorrow please”? When the shop say we will deliver your new suite in two weeks time do we say “no thanks I would like it next week”? When your computer crashes and your IT repairer says I will remove the virus from your PC tomorrow, do we say “but I need it back today”? When the doctor says I will organise your CT scan for a couple of weeks time (when you are potentially life threatened), why do we say OK sir?
When you have anything done for you, most of us try to find out about the work involved , the skills required, and the expected performance & outcome from those doing the job. If we have a wall built, we couldn’t do it ourselves, but we seek to know about bricks and mortar and building techniques; if we are having a new kitchen fitted we consider designs, materials, costs, and impacts; if we are buying a new car we often research the state of affairs, even considering technical details we don’t even understand.
When dealing with a doctor over a difficult medical condition, we lose the plot, don’t we? We question nothing, do we? Like young embarrassed school kids in class we don’t even ask the obvious questions, do we? Doctors are obliged to give us honest answers to straight questions of course, but they have no desire to give us ‘unsolicited’ information. [Many people can’t cope, so actually don’t want to know the full facts, nor even their life survival chances (and doctors respect that) – but if you do want information, you will have to ask for it, wont you?].
Hopefully, you won’t need to be involved too much with doctors and hospitals, and will just have to deal with nothing more serious than a bad cold or flu.
[Over half a century now, we in the United Kingdom have allowed the medical profession (dedicated as they are), who we fund by the NHS, to become dictators in their field – and surely that is not healthy is it?].