“Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.” Aneurin Bevan (Minister for Health 1945 to 1951 and “father” of the NHS, 1897–1960)
This is probably a contentious post but it has been something that I’ve been mulling over all week. It is something that will probably effect me later this year when all being well I travel to Germany for my first international race. The issue I want to talk about is whether GP’s should charge individual’s for signing a ‘fit to run’ form.
I’m guessing that international races get people to have these forms signed so that if anything does happen to you then race organisers can hold their hands up and say ‘hey your doctor said you were ok, we’re not liable’. In the main it seems GP’s are happy to sign this form but there is huge variability between practices as to whether GP’s actually charge for their signature on a form. I had to get signed off once for a scuba diving course, and while I didn’t have to pay this particular GP made me go through all sorts of tests because I mentioned that I had suffered from childhood asthma. It was a faff but I didn’t have to pay. However other people report paying anything up to £25.00 per form for the signature. Would I pay if that was the charge? I’ve considered it and I have to say I probably would. Here’s a few reasons why:
When I was a teenage athlete I was quite badly injured. A private ‘physio’, osteopath and Harley Street doctor all misdiagnosed me. It was an A&E doctor and an NHS consultant who correctly diagnosed me. I had the proper investigations done via the NHS and 6 months after the injury I had surgery, without which I would never have got back into sport.
Fast forward many many years, the NHS brought my two beautiful children into the world. All my care and scans were free and the after care at home was excellent. Plus all my children’s vaccinations have been free of charge.
More recently a family member had a massive heart attack. He was swiftly treated and had major surgery without which he would have died.
There are many other NHS stories I could tell but I am grateful for the NHS and what it has done for my family. Individuals who don’t agree with paying for the form feel that they are saving money by being fit and healthy. But to me that is arrogant because none of us know what lies for us in the future. Exercise alone cannot prevent unforeseen accidents, illness and problems that our genes may have predestined for us.
The NHS is also time poor and lacking in funds with a rocketing population to look after. Heck, when I worked there a few years ago I couldn’t even get approval for treasury tags to hold my patient notes together. When Anuerin Bevan developed his vision for the NHS, I think he meant for it to be where people who have come into misfortune might go, not for people to turn up waving forms to be signed. I also wonder how GP’s feel about their time being taken up reviewing these forms alongside all the other responsibilities passed on by this Government.
As it stands the NHS is under ever increasing pressure and whenever I read about it I can see that Bevan’s organisation is looking more and more like it will be dismantled. I know it’s a hassle to have to pay for a form to be signed but I think I would rather pay a nominal fee than have the NHS disappear completely. Because sooner or later I really think that is what will happen and then you will soon see the fee to sign your form sky rocket upwards from £25.
So that’s what’s been going through the abyss that is my brain all week. What are your thoughts on being charged for fit to run forms for international races?