In my entire medical career, I’ve never heard of a patient who died because the doctor had an accent
Walking up some stairs to my office, I spot a flyer stuck in a busy thoroughfare area. By the time I absorb its contents I have to retrace my steps to take a more careful look. Then, the onslaught of work removes all possibility of being distracted by a piece of advertising. The interpreters are overbooked today and my cancer clinic is burgeoning with people who can’t wait.
The first patient is from Punjab, an elderly woman accompanied by her husband. “What language do you feel comfortable with, English or Hindi?”
Like 12% of medical students, the graphic sights of the operating theatre caused me to faint. But slowly, after many queasy incidents, I learned how to cope
Medicine is great, but it involves pain, pus and blood. For some, seeing those things is a problem. When I started medical school, I was worried. Before applying, I had spent a night in the local casualty department as work experience. I watched a junior doctor try to prise a splinter from a young woman’s hand. It was hurting her, and she kept yelping. The doctor got irritated and said the anaesthetic “should be working by now”. He kept digging into her hand with a scalpel tip; she started to cry. I felt lightheaded, my skin went cold, I moved my legs to keep the blood flowing, but seconds later I fainted.
Related: ‘I fainted quite a bit’: what I learned from my nursing placement
Our health service stands alongside other brilliant inventions, such as penicillin, IVF and artificial hips. We must make sure it is fit for the decades to come
The NHS will celebrate its 70th birthday in 2018, after a difficult decade since the global financial crisis culminating in one of the most testing years in our history. The terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, along with the Grenfell Tower tragedy, saw all emergency services, including NHS staff, respond with skill and bravery.
Related: The NHS staff who rallied to my son’s aid show there is hope, even in bleak times | Jonathan Freedland