Viewpoint: What can the world's richest country learn from the NHS?

I'm writing this from Doha, Qatar. This is, per capita, the richest country on the planet.

Therefore you might expect its healthcare system to be perfect. In reality, it's a healthcare system which is struggling to work out what to do, how to cope with a diabetes prevalence of 24%, in a country with an average age of 32 and a population in which residents are outnumbered by foreign workers.

One of the major drawbacks is the absence of what the Americans call a medical 'home'.

First stop is always the hospital

Speaking to the taxi driver on the way from the airport, the answer to any question relating to illness was 'go to the hospital'. Proactive personal care is missing and nobody thinks about problem avoidance until it's too late.

In hospitals it's not uncommon to have patients living in hospital beds having dialysis three times a week because they are too afraid to try and cope with home care.

Do you know what Doha needs? The answer is a list-based primary care system that can act as the patient's advocate and champion in a complex system.

We've got that in the NHS and, do you know what? It's priceless.

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP and co-director of clincial strategy at Liverpool Health Partners.

Photo: UNP

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