07 Feb

Book Review: The State of Medicine, by Margaret McCartney

This book is difficult to read. It’s brilliantly written, coherently argued, and McCartney’s passion for the NHS screams through every paragraph, and for all that it is a joy to read; but it is difficult to read about the increasingly overt privatisation of the NHS, and the destruction of its most fundamental principles.

In 21st Century Britain, politicians express love for and pride in the NHS, while systematically setting it up to fail, by implementing policies for the sake of headlines, and apparently deliberately misreading research to support hopeless initiatives which are not trialled, and not terminated when they prove not to work. Modern social and cultural expectations enable the government to push forward their agenda, by creating an environment where popularity and choice trump evidence and effectiveness. The vocational nature of health work allows us to expect health professionals to give endlessly, while being abused in the press, badly paid, and put under intolerable pressure.

McCartney unravels so many threads of this Kafka-esque situation, bringing in clear evidence and pointing out where it is missing; and including the voices of real people working in and experiencing the NHS: doctors, patients, researchers, policy makers. She is so passionate and articulate, part of the very core of the NHS, and one of those who will fight to the last breath to maintain an evidence-based health service, free at the point of access, for everyone in the UK.

[DISCLAIMER: I was sent a free copy of this book by the publishers. You can buy your own on their website, with a 10% discount if you use the code SPROGCAST at the checkout.]