This site is intended for health professionals only

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

Dear Prime Minister, 

sam finnikin 3x2

sam finnikin 3×2 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. 


Visit Pulse Reference for details on 140 symptoms, including easily searchable symptoms and categories, offering you a free platform to check symptoms and receive potential diagnoses during consultations.