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.

Author: Catherine Blaiklock

First published in The Salisbury Review: https://www.salisburyreview.com/blog/the-doctor-will-not-see-you-now/

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