Pioneering heart surgeon PROF STEPHEN WESTABY outlines his fears for the NHS

Mail Online | 3/24/2019 | Professor Stephen Westaby For The Mail On Sunday
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After 35 years on the front line of British medicine, heart surgeon Stephen Westaby has become a bestselling author. Last week, in the first part from his latest book, The Knife’s Edge, he explained how a head injury sustained when playing rugby removed both fear and inhibitions – and turned him into a brilliant surgeon. Today, he tells of his fears for the NHS – and offers his blueprint to save it.

What do Albert Einstein and our treasured NHS have in common? They were both brilliant for their time, but when they reached 70 they both died from something eminently treatable.

Einstein - Case - Aneurysm - Surgery - NHS

In Einstein’s case, it was an aortic aneurysm for which he persistently refused surgery. For the NHS, I believe, it is the ‘free for all at the point of delivery’ principle that seems impossible to sustain – because Britain’s population is expanding and ageing in tandem and only a proportion of us pay taxes to fund it.

I was born three weeks after the NHS was started and I have always been its greatest champion, but the now deep-seated problems with the service were palpable the day my mother died.

Dementia - Parkinson - Dad - Mother - Companion

She was 92 and had dementia and severe Parkinson’s, and although my dad was deaf and virtually blind, at 94 he remained my mother’s constant companion. They were happy in their own home.

It was March 2016 when it became clear from her agitation and heavy breathing that the end was near. My father knew the score.

Grandfather - Heart - Failure - GP - House

We all wanted her to be comfortable and I knew how to achieve that. When my grandfather was dying from heart failure, his kindly GP came to the house to dispense morphine which helped him on his way. As a junior doctor in the 1970s, I did the same for many desperate patients. It is what...
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