Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 14:17 UK

Family firm: Working for the NHS

Abigail, Michal and Lucy Whiting

When the NHS was launched in 1948 its mandate was to provide free point of entry medical care for all from "cradle to grave".

As well achieving this, the National Health Service became a large working organisation that attracted many generations of the same family.

The Whiting family is tied to the NHS. The head of the family, Dr Michael Whiting, became a GP before the NHS was launched. Since then, three of his daughters have worked for the National Health Service.

Here, Dr Whiting and two of his daughter's tell us their NHS stories.

DR MICHAEL WHITING, retired GP
Dr Michael Whiting
I qualified as a doctor in May 1941. Being a GP was quite different back then.

I didn't move into my own practice until October 1947. In between then, I worked as a locum and in hospitals around Yorkshire.

I was always enthusiastic about the NHS as I was in favour of the changes it proposed.

This wasn't true of all doctors though. Many feared it would mean a drop in their income and that they would lose control of their practice.

The BMA even tried to oppose it, but they couldn't fight against popular approval.

Before the NHS started, patients were charged according to how much we thought they afford. There were different schemes to pay for treatment and sick clubs were set up to help the poor.

After the NHS started, patients didn't have to worry about how much it would cost. We also didn't have to worry about whether our patients could afford our services.

One of the biggest changes since the NHS started was the increase in the prescription fee. When the fee started, in the early 1950's, the cost was two shillings.

One of the biggest changes for me was when a fellow GP and I decided to open a joint surgery. Before then my surgery was part of my house. The new one we built was next door, we had an office and even employed staff.

The NHS has changed a lot since it started and I think it has been for the worse.

The main problem now is the difficulty in getting a personal doctor. Now, you sign up to a practice and see any doctor that is available.

A doctor needs to know their patient and I don't think that happens any more.

We used to go into peoples homes and got to know how they lived. We delivered their babies and were part of their lives, which is how I think it should be.

LUCY FLOWER, Public Relations Officer, Humber Mental Health Trust

Lucy Flower
You could say that I was brought up in the NHS really.

I remember when I was little, the surgery was at the back of our house. The patients used to come and sit in the hall and I would go and talk to the old ladies.

Even when the surgery moved next door I used to go and play there after school. During the holidays I used to go out with dad when he did house calls.

I did actually want to be a doctor when I was little, but I realised that it wasn't where my talents lay.

I had my children quite young so I spent my 20's raising them. I then went on and did my degree in my 30's.

As soon as I finished my course I applied for a job as a medical secretary and got it.

I moved on from that to public relations at the Humber Mental Health Trust. I've been here for three years now and I love it.

The NHS has changed but I think it's been for the better. The health service of my father's day couldn't carry on as it was.

I don't think it's as impersonal as my dad thinks. I know my doctors pretty well and they have seen my children grow up and know us all by name.

The changes in mental health have improved drastically. Patients are now being treated instead of locked up like they used to be.

More does need to be done in mental health, especially in early intervention and talking therapy.

My daughter says she wants to be a doctor. She's only 11 but I would be delighted if she does. I still think the NHS is a very honourable place to work.

ABIGAIL WHITING, Physiotherapist, Hull Royal Infirmary

Abigail Whiting
I always wanted to be a doctor just like my dad.

In 6th form they said I wouldn't get the grades to do medicine and to choose something else.

I did work experience with physiotherapists and decided I quite liked it.

I actually got the grades to do medicine but decided to stick with physio, much to my mother's dismay.

When I qualified I applied for lots of jobs and got the one in Hull. I now have quite a lot of patients who used to be my dad's.

They'll look at my name badge and ask "are you Doctor Whiting's daughter?" They'll then tell me "he delivered me" and lots of other stories.

Physiotherapy is a profession that has changed so much. People think we are here just to help someone with a broken leg.

We're involved with a lot of things and the skills are so evolved. We now do everything from teaching a person how to walk again to helping them to regain their independence after a serious illness.

The NHS has its problems but what business doesn't?

You always hear about the bad stuff in the NHS but never the good things that happen every day.

There are so many stories of staff going out there way to help patients, but you'll never see that in the papers.

There is no one solution to "fix" the NHS. It's a thing that has been growing for the past 60 years and will continue to grow.

The NHS is three little letters but it covers so much. If it was to go everyone would miss it so much.

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