…By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
Dr. Hasmukh Shah, a dedicated doctor who has served the NHS for nearly 50 years, reflects on the accomplishments of the healthcare system over its 75-year existence.
Dr. Shah, originally trained in MS University of Baroda in Gujarat, India, has been working as a General Practitioner (GP) in the Rhondda Valley for the past 36 years.
Additionally, he serves as the secretary of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origins, advocating for the contributions of Indian doctors in Wales.
NHS Successes in Wales and the Challenges Ahead
Dr. Shah highlights the progress made by the NHS in Wales, such as increased life expectancy.
He notes that patients aged 65 and above now constitute one in every five individuals in Wales.
This demographic shift results from the successful elimination of infectious diseases like tuberculosis and improved cancer survival rates.
Dr. Shah emphasizes the importance of screenings for cancers and congenital diseases, high childhood vaccination rates, and advanced diagnostic tools like CT, MRI, and ultrasound, which contribute to early detection and positive outcomes.
The Crucial Role of Overseas Doctors in the NHS
Dr. Shah acknowledges the significant contributions of overseas doctors, particularly from India, in the Welsh health system.
He highlights the diversity of thoughts and experiences they bring to the NHS, describing them as a talented and invaluable workforce.
Overseas doctors often work in areas facing shortages of UK-trained doctors, such as secondary care specialties like emergency care, hematology, and old-age psychiatry.
In primary care, they serve communities grappling with high levels of deprivation, complex patient needs related to poverty, drug use, and mental health issues.
Challenges and the Future of the NHS
Dr. Shah raises concerns about the underfunding of the NHS in the UK compared to other European countries.
With over 130,000 vacancies across the NHS in the UK, there is immense pressure on services, resulting in long waiting lists for specialist consultations and elective surgeries.
Dr. Shah predicts a future where the NHS adopts a digital-first model of care, with increased reliance on healthcare apps and artificial intelligence.
He believes these advancements can enhance diagnostic capabilities, improve efficiency, and alleviate workforce burdens.
Affordability and the Need for Prioritization
Dr. Shah raises a critical question regarding the NHS’s ability to provide comprehensive healthcare to everyone throughout their lives.
Given the financial constraints and growing demands, he prompts a discussion about the sustainability of providing unlimited access to all available healthcare services.
Dr. Hasmukh Shah’s extensive experience as an NHS doctor offers valuable insights into the achievements of the NHS in Wales and the challenges it faces.
From increased life expectancy to the vital role of overseas doctors, Dr. Shah highlights both the accomplishments and areas for improvement within the healthcare system.
As the NHS looks toward the future, digital innovations and artificial intelligence are expected to play a significant role, though difficult questions regarding affordability and prioritization remain.
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