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Monday 24th October 2016

Sceptical about the NHS

30th June 2008

Dr Alan Merson, thought to be the UK's "longest serving GP" has spoken to the BBC about his experiences within the health service.


Dr Merson has been a GP since the health service started in 1948 and is 86 years old. He is still working sixty years on, but admitted he was not a huge admirer of the NHS.

He said he felt the NHS was introduced too quickly and it has not managed to achieve many of the things it set out to do.

Dr Merson penned a letter to William Beveridge, who was responsible for a report in 1942 which "pre-empted" the establishment of the NHS.

"I said 'in my opinion you are bringing it in too soon and neither the doctors nor the public have been educated in how to use it," Dr Merson explained.

He described the period when free healthcare was set up as "very difficult" as some patients tried to abuse the services available.

He said the NHS was set up costing a certain amount with the concept that people would be able to visit the doctor because it was free and as a result the population would be more healthy and it would eventually "cost less".

"But it never did, because, of course, advances in medicine have become so expensive," he added.

Dr Merson criticised the polyclinic idea, saying that it would be difficult to deliver "continuation of treatment".

He praised the health service for improving diagnosis and offering a huge range of surgical and medical procedures.

Dr Merson plans to retire this year but is keen to do the occasional locum shift.

"When I was in Spain I met this lady who was doing some medical work at 92 and I thought I can't let her beat me," he added.


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