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How patients and doctors talk to each other


Politics in the NHS
Harold Lambert Physician
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I'm a bit ashamed to say that most of it passed over my head because I was a student. I mean what happened was the act I think was '46 and... what do you call it when an act comes into, enacted or whatever the phrase is, the parliamentary phrase? It was '48, and then I was a clinical student, a year from qualifying and I think you have other concerns at that stage of your life. But I do, I do recognise from talking to other people I did... I'll tell you something not from my experience, I did a few of these things, not video, but sound recordings of even older than I ex-St George's doctors for this sort of archive and porters and patients and what not, and a GP who'd become an anaesthetist told me about working in Edinburgh when the act started. He was a GP at that time and he really brought it home to me; patients were paying and he'd see some ill child and he'd go the following day and pretend he was just happening to be in that district and, you know, 'I'm just passing just to say to the mother I'm not asking for money and I just thought, oh well, as I'm passing I'll look at Willy' and he... said what a, you know, huge thing. And, as I think I mentioned, before the upping of the status in staffing of the district general hospitals. I mean we grumble about them, I know, but they're serious places with the main types of medicine and surgery catered for now and they weren't. And, no... I mean, most of my life was within the health service so I can't actually say I, I personally saw it hugely when it was. It was...

[Q] When, when you started talking about yours... the... the scientists you read you said they had a vaguely left-wing agenda, I think, most of them. Would you say that you had a particular... you made a political choice in... terms of for yourself or...

Not in an... I mean I've always been on the left side of the spectrum, but never an activist really and, and no, no, I've not been actively engaged.

British doctor Harold Lambert (1926-2017) spent his career tackling infectious diseases, helping in the development of pyrazinamide as an effective treatment for tuberculosis. He also published work on the rational use of antibiotics and was a trustee and medical advisor for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Listeners: Roger Higgs

Roger Higgs was an inner city GP for 30 years in south London, UK, and is Emeritus Professor of General Practice at Kings College London, where he set up the department.

He gained scholarships in classics at Cambridge but changed to medicine after a period of voluntary work in Kenya in 1962. He was Harold Lambert's registrar for 18 months in the early 1970s, the most influential and exciting episode in his hospital training. He set up his own practice in 1975. He helped to establish medical ethics as a practical and academic subject through teaching, writing and broadcasting, and jointly set up the 'Journal of Medical Ethics' in 1975.

His other work included studies in whole person assessment and narrative in general practice and development work in primary medical care: innovations here included intermediate care centres, primary care assessment in accident and emergency departments, teaching internal medicine in general practice and establishing counselling services in medicine.

He was made MBE in 1987 for this development work and now combines bioethics governance, teaching and writing with an arts based retirement.

Tags: National Health Service

Duration: 2 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008