‘The Doctor will not see you now.’

A fourth year medical student was admitted to Cardiff University Medical School who is almost totally deaf and blind.

The BBC celebrated this as ‘Capturing NHS diversity.’  ITV glorified it as ‘Deafblind medical student pursuing her dreams.’ All the media, without exception, as well as an NHS spokesman said how wonderful this was and that it showed that anyone can do anything and overcome discrimination. No one, as they gloated about ‘diversity,’  asked either of the following two questions:

‘Was she really the best candidate for this scarce medical school place?’

These are the 2015 statistics for Cardiff Medical school, the year this girl applied: 2579 applicants for 309 places; 88% of applicants did not get a place. 

‘Can we, as a country, with an acute shortage of doctors, really afford to train someone like her?’

NHS 2016 numbers:  It costs £380,000 to train a GP and £510,000 to train a consultant. 

I recently visited various medical schools with my own daughter while she was applying to train as a doctor. At Birmingham University, I saw a prospective female student wearing a full Burka; she was chaperoned by a male companion.

How can this woman seriously be considered for a place?  How is she going to function?  What sort of health service are we creating?  For whose benefit do we run a health service ?  Who pays?

Of course, it is ‘nice’ if somebody who is severely disabled gets the chance to become a doctor at a cost of half a million pounds of taxpayers money.  Is this a good use of resources when the NHS is so strapped for cash?

Isn’t training doctors a bit like training fighter pilots? You cannot have deaf and blind fighter pilots or brail cockpits. Fighter pilots have a purpose in society and society needs them for the greater good. We cannot train doctors because it is ‘nice’ for them personally. Some jobs require a level of fitness. 

This appointment will inevitably lead to quotas. Each medical school will be under pressure from disabled lobbies to admit increasing numbers of the disabled; paraplegics, those suffering heart problems, depression, the very elderly and so on.

On the social side what is there to stop demands that medical students should no longer be judged on their exam results which plainly discriminate against the less bright? Indeed why should somebody who has done time for armed robbery not become a doctor?

In a perfect world of unlimited resources, we could train anyone we liked but we do not live in such a world. I believe that doctors should be trained for the greater good of the society and that unfortunately means selecting for physical fitness as well as intellect, however politically unpopular that might be.

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23 Comments on ‘The Doctor will not see you now.’

  1. I think we could be jumping to conclusions here.
    Tim Cordes qualified as a doctor in 2005 in Madison USA despite his blindness and now practices as a psychiatrist. He is reported to have been an exceptional student in may ways since childhood, has contributed to advancing medical science, and was the second blind person to become a doctor in the USA.
    This does not mean that the British case is not a piece of unrealistic virtuousness but maybe we should hold fire till we know more – detailed info seems not to be available online.
    That would be the correct, cool, dispassionate, pragmatic Conservative way would it not?

    • “That would be the correct, cool, dispassionate, pragmatic Conservative way would it not?”

      Yes, but a lot of the people who post here are hysterical, reactionary idiots.

  2. It would be interesting to know, since, as someone has pointed out, it costs hundreds of thousands to train a doctor in this country, how much it costs the NHS to train a doctor in,say,India or Uganda.

  3. Even more shocking than hiring almost totally deaf and blind doctors is the hiring by you Brits of large numbers of doctors and nurses (competent in their specialties though they may be) who are almost totally incapable of speaking anything more than basic English. This policy is a recipe for medical disaster, as good communications with patients and medical colleagues are paramount in getting correct diagnoses and treatment.

    In the Far East, it is unthinkable that a patient would be faced with dealing with medical staff who are not native speakers of the patient’s language. It’s not a point that even needs making here, but it does dramatically reduce “agency costs”, and substantially improve doctor-patient communications and medical outcomes.

    • To elaborate slightly, The Economist, which is obsessed with pulling down national borders and opening the world up to mass migration, repeatedly insults the Japanese as “racist” for not employing more nurses from the Philippines to assist with the care of its growing number of elderly, but the truth is that it has little to do with xenophobia and more to do with simple logic: the Japanese are naturally mystified by how anyone could be of much use in a hospital if they can’t even understand basic medical terms in Japanese, or doctors’ instructions, or read the prescriptions in Japanese on medicine bottles. They’d be a huge liability, and the source of endless medical negligence litigation.

      Perhaps the Japanese should create a visa class for foreigners who could help in hospital in a peri-medical capacity, such as with transport, cleaning and feeding of patients. That would be of great help, but would not require expensive medical training, the taking of Japanese medical exams, which even Japanese find difficult, or learning Japanese beyond the basics.

  4. I’m an American, and have just read this semi-horror story, and then the comments that followed. Beyond a basic standard, most Americans hate socialized medicine, and apparently for good reason now that I’ve read this. If Great Britain can get this silly over diversity and inclusion, the U.S.A., a much younger and sillier nation, is doomed if we follow suit.

    • Joe – this report strikes most of us outside the usual bubble as crazy which is why I’m sceptical. Blindness has many forms and it’s possible that the student could do the job okay with, say, tunnel vision or some other handicap short of total blindness which is itself very rare among people registered as blind.

      I can’t find any detail on this case but, surprise! you guys led the way – you have at least one blind MD that google turned up.

      These decisions are university med school choices – so taking a swipe at our ‘socialised medicine’ is not apt. We don’t deny that our NHS is our national religion but most of us want to keep it – and note that the US comes near Colombia in the international leagues and cost 3x as much as ours. Not a recommendation!

      • That is a shocker. I knew they did worse but put it down to profit gouging, indifference, and especially over-eating.
        Those maternal death figures – 3x what they should be.
        And this from a country that has strong pro-life authoritarianism and church going.

  5. We’ll, we’ve got an immature, narcissistic, disingenuous moron totally unsuited to be prime minister, and you didn’t complain about that.

  6. It’s been going this way a long time. When I applied to medical school several years ago, I noticed that among the ‘success stories’ on the university website was a woman who’d been delighted to be accepted for training at 40 years old. I couldn’t help but wonder, given it’d be years before she even qualified, that even were she to be a very good doctor (which I’ve no reason to doubt), how much value the country would really get from her?

    I suspect this goes back to the arguments about ten or fifteen years ago about the rising number of female medical students who, by the time they qualified, were naturally thinking about going part time or taking years off to have children. The majority of medical students have since become female. But since daring to wonder if this was a good idea was howled down as sexist, I imagine most medical schools have simply given up trying to ask these kinds of questions.

    • A related puzzle is why women have come to dominate medicine and teaching as well as filling the excellence slots in education outcomes.
      You need to be super-sensitive to danger and a good judge of character to survive natural selection among us brutes, but do you need to be smart as well?
      The head of a top-of-the-league school near me once dismissed their excellent rating thus: we are selective, we charge fees, and we take only girls. Where else would we be but top? Why though?

      • I expect once teaching became predominantly female as a profession it became self-perpetuating. I imagine girls do better with female teachers in the same way boys did better with male teachers. How it became that way I’m not sure, but I suspect as professions become more heavily-regulated they become less appealing to many men. There is also the way in which male teachers are paranoid about, and vulnerable to, being accused of impropriety.

        Medicine has also become much more regulated in this way. I have read older doctors complaining of feeling increasingly like robots who are never allowed to use their own judgement.

    • This is a visible problem in Ireland, where large numbers of young women train as doctors – at great expense to the state – and then leave the profession to marry and have children.

    • You have summarised the reason why there is a shortage of British doctors, a conclusion confirmed by several retired consultants.

  7. Yet another example of misguided egalitarianism which turns a blind eye (excuse the pun) to the potential consequences for the public at large. Presumably she’s an intelligent young lady who could find a much more suitable career. She shouldn’t be allowed to take the place of a more suitable candidate at a medical college

  8. Insane – how can a blind person look down a throat? How can a deaf person hear a heart murmur? Step forward the Health Minister and kill off these absurdities.

  9. I would prefer anyone that professes to be a doctor to look at the whole person that is in front of them.

    Too many, take the blanket view that all patients are stupid, and then they go on to treat one symptom after another without ever so much as troubling the patient with an enquiry as to the root of a given health issue.

    Perhaps our deaf blind applicant is more sensitive in this regard…?

    Regardless, the NHS will soon knock that out of her.

    There are millions of ways to skin a cat, and the NHS is only one of them, the fact that the state has forced us to support this model and only this model is the real crime.

  10. So strange a decision even by our present insanities that one wonders if there is more to it. Most people registered blind and deaf are not in fact completely unable to see or hear and, with a stretch, one could imagine someone being able to overcome their disadvantages.

    Not at all surprised by the burka. Enlightened women are insulted on all sides these days and this is just one more for the pot.

  11. Sentimental egalitarian mushiness will always appeal to large numbers of people who will not trouble themselves to consider the long term consequences of their ill-considered good deeds.

    Future generations may curse the Conservatives for their failure to take a firm stand against the moral bullying of the Liberal-Left. What do the Conservatives actually stand for? Do they just align their “core beliefs” with the spirit of the age as helpfully depicted for them by the mass media? Conservative governments compete with Labour to see who can throw more money at “our” NHS. They are terrified of taking on the challenge of genuine reform. In our brave new world everyone in public life (even the royal family) must be seen to be some sort of socialis or face the wrath of the mob.