The word compassion in all Latin derived languages combines the prefix, with (com) and the root, to bear or suffering (passio). For a doctor and all health professionals this is a given prerequisite. We suffer with our patients. It is the essential penance we shoulder in return for the wondrous joy of helping those in need.
I am a GP, and as such I act as one of the gatekeepers to the health service. People of any age and problem can walk through our door. Wherever possible we either treat or reassure. If not then we direct the patient to another NHS service for help.
In general practice we see a large number of patients in need. Few people more so than those struggling with mental health problems. There are 10 times more people suffering with major depression compared to 1945. It is utterly heartbreaking to see a depressed person who is struggling, only to reply to them: “Sorry, but the counselling you need is at least a six-week wait”. To this patient, six weeks is 42 days (and nights), 1,008 hours, 60,480 minutes or 3.63 million seconds.
These seconds are not ordinary seconds. Life feels like constantly walking in oversized wellies through knee-high wet mud. It is backbreaking, emotionally draining, gloomy and painful. As their GP, I have to condemn my patient to at least 3.63 million seconds of further torture without hope. I feel so helpless and cruel.
Full story at The Guardian 16 May 2016