This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

CAMHS won't see you now

When you really need it Ms May, I hope the NHS is still there

Winner of Pulse’s 2017 writing competition, Dr Samuel Finnikin

Dear Prime Minister, 

sam finnikin 3x2

sam finnikin 3x2 SUO

One day you will die. I rarely get to make statements with absolute certainty, but in this statement I have no doubt. The mode and timing of your demise is beyond my predictive capacity and, just to be clear, I have no malicious desire for it to be untimely. However, I want you to think about the end of your life and what you want it to be like.

I imagine that you hope to die at home. Surrounded by people who care about you. Free from pain and without physical or emotional suffering. These are things many people hope for when their time on this earth is drawing to an end.

Perhaps the NHS you’ll need will be even better than the one we find ourselves with; the one on the edge of ruin. We can but dream

What I hope for is that the NHS still exists to help you and your loved ones through this most challenging and inevitable of life’s milestones. I hope you have a GP who knows you. A caring, compassionate and competent individual who reassured you when the first signs of your illness appeared, comforted you when your worst fears were confirmed and prepared you when nothing more could be done. I hope that you have nurses who can be at your bedside when you need them, no matter what time of day. And I hope you have carers who treat you with dignity and respect, and have the time to recognise and respond to you as an individual.

In short, I hope that when you are dying, you can rely on the NHS to be there for you. Not an NHS staffed by demoralised, overworked and underappreciated individuals who have lost their compassion in a quagmire of bureaucracy. Nor an NHS that treats people as numbers on a spreadsheet and staff as a commodity. No. I hope that the NHS you need will be like the one we have today.

Full of dedicated staff who will do the best they can to relieve your suffering. People who regularly go beyond what’s expected of them to ensure everyone gets the best care, regardless of their age, sex, ethnicity or financial situation. Perhaps the NHS you’ll need will be even better than the one we find ourselves with; the one on the edge of ruin. We can but dream.

I am sure you are cognisant of the challenges we face. I’m equally sure you’re faced with challenges from all sectors of society. So when you’re trying to prioritise, I want you to remember this. You’re going to die. When you do, the NHS will be there to look after you, and will do a bloody good job. Just as long as you look after the NHS today.

Dr Samuel Finnikin is a GP in Sutton Coldfield and National Institute for Health Research In Practice Fellow in primary care clinical sciences at the University of Birmingham. Dr Finnikin wins an Amazon Fire tablet for his entry. 

Rate this article  (4.35 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (13)

  • I can imagine Mrs Mays' reply-'Death means death. And if you seriously imagine that when my time comes I will be using a NHS facility your reasoning lacks a solid and stable foundation".

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    How many times has she used those words 'strong and stable' so far ? May be she should use a 'die hard' leadership instead , which in that case , Samuel , your wonderful piece of work would be meaningless to her.
    The ranting against EU chiefs this afternoon, however , showed some panic anxiety considering she is having a 'comfortable' 20 points lead .
    I already have a funny feeling about tomorrow's local elections........
    One day of politics is too fascinating....,,

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Having skilled, compassionate healthcare is not the same as that healthcare being organised in a state run NHS. Many European systems are objectively superior.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Mrs May cannot die. She is a cyberdyne systems model 101 with a mag-alloy combat chassis . She will not show pity or mercy and positively will not stop - ever , until general practice is destroyed.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • When I am about to die, I will seek for Private Medicine....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I worry when a system of organisation is venerated more than the people who work in it or the objective outcomes.
    The NHS is treated like a religion in the UK and this piece supports that viewpoint.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Quick somebody open palldocs - an innovative new service covering all your EOL needs ( at a a cost) . Probably already exists in London etc.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Excellent letter Sam. Congratulations for winning the first prize.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • As both a health provider- a GP, and a consumer,- with a critically ill relative, I take issue with one Particular statement by Dr Finnikins , that the Prime Minister should have access to an NHS like today in her hour of future need. I hope that any future health services will be significantly better. It needs to be more responsive to patient choice , needs to value its workforce and trainees, be less obsessed with tick box bureaucracy and needs to have much more effective local leadership which is liberated from centralisation, with more local accountability. The politicians can do us a favour by distancing themselves from the day to day workings of our health service.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Rogue1

    Quite agree Imomoz, Europe does have better health care. Last league tables I saw (prob 2yrs ago now) the UK had fallen to 18th in Europe. Most people will struggle to name 17 European countries, never mind 17 that 'should' have a better health system!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say