The Health Service must learn to listen to its patients and be more caring, Prince Charles said yesterday. Modern medicine and technology are putting the ‘human touch’ at risk, according to the heir to the throne. In a heartfelt plea, he said medical schools should try to foster a climate of care and compassion among doctors. Charles’s intervention follows a series of reports of appalling treatment by NHS staff, including dying patients left screaming for water. He called on doctors and nurses to heed what patients say so they can develop the ‘healing empathy’ so badly needed.
I love political hacks putting their feet into their orifices. So based on a few reports, Prince Charles decrees that doctors and nurses should listen to their patients? Well thanks Charlie, I really appreciate your help.
As I read this story my thought went to a famous princess who is known to have said: “Let them eat cake!”
Modern medicine is under stresses about which I very much doubt the Prince has any real knowledge or empathy. His US political counterparts have similar perspectives I suspect. The aforementioned pressures are similar in the UK and the US. In order to make a living in medicine, today’s doctor must treat more patients than his (or her) predecessors of decades before. That means less patient contact time. While this is not ideal, this is the state of affairs. I don’t see any movement on the issue of doctor’s reimbursement in anything but a downward direction, so expect the lack of “face time” to increase.
At least in the US, the climate has worsened to the extent that if things do not go well for a particular patient, a doctor is encouraged by counsel not to ever apologize. We are told that an apology indicates guilt. This is just another example of the system’s progressive pounding of humanity out of medicine. The law and politics have something to do with this evolution.
John Di Saia MD