The evolution of public perception of doctors from opportunistic social climbers in the 19th century to revered saints in the 21st, particularly within the context of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The writer suggests that the romanticization of medical professionals as selfless heroes is not only detrimental to the healthcare providers themselves but also counterproductive for patient care. It was also mentioned that this illusionary perception often overshadows systemic issues within the healthcare industry such as poor pay, poor working conditions, and the need for radical reforms.
- The modern perception of doctors as selfless, devoted professionals originated in the 19th century when doctors sought to distinguish themselves from quacks and elevate the status of their profession.
- The reputation of the medical profession significantly improved with the advent of the NHS, despite initial resistance from the British Medical Association. The sanctification of doctors, however, started gaining momentum from the early 1970s due to economic and political pressures, and subtle NHS propaganda.
- The characterization of doctors as saints often leads to the denial of their rights to industrial action and fair compensation. This narrative also tends to obscure the issues plaguing the NHS, including inadequate funding and high work pressure.
- Short appointment times due to excessive workload prevent doctors from properly diagnosing patients, putting patients at risk and compromising the quality of care.
- The article suggests that acknowledging the reality of doctors as skilled professionals, rather than heroes, would balance the power dynamic between doctors and patients, make it easier for patients to voice their concerns, and help to institute necessary reforms in the healthcare sector.