David and a Goliathan struggle

By July 20, 2022Public

I have long been an admirer of the wit and wisdom of David Olivier — or @mancunianmedic as he is known to his followers on Twitter.

David’s articles for the BMJ, Guardian and others have combined intellectual insights with the visceral reality of healthcare in the real world. He’s also great to have on your MJA quiz team.

Like many members, earlier this year I was delighted to hear David had been elected President of the Royal College of Physicians, and was looking forward to seeing what this would bring.

But, as David announced on Twitter, and via a press statement from the RCP, he is stepping back from that post, and also from the NHS frontline.

If you have not already read it, please read David’s own words, published in the BMJ. As someone who deals with words, not life and death, it is difficult to comprehend a life lived in such close proximity to death. And I cannot begin to imagine the toll that more than two years on a ‘hot’ Covid ward must take.

As someone who grew up in a country that doesn’t have an nationalised health service, where an ambulance subscription was one of the first things you bought when you got your first job, I am in awe of the NHS.

I have had treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, two children — both complicated pregnancies — a comprehensively broken ankle and pneumonia requiring IV antibiotics. Anywhere else in the world that would have left me with a huge financial debt. But thanks to the NHS and all those who are keeping it alive, all I have is a debt of gratitude.

David, and his many colleagues, are all heroes — and as he says, they deserve much more than a medal.

Jane Symons

Author Jane Symons

Jane is a freelance journalist, author and media consultant whose credits range from The Sun to the World Health Organisation.She edited the health pages of The Sun for five years, and is a former health editor of Woman's Own and chief sub-editor of the Telegraph Magazine.At one time or another she has written for national dailies and magazines including The Sun, Daily Mail, Times, Telegraph, Daily and Sunday Express, Daily Mirror, Woman's Own and Woman & Home. She is currently a regular contributor to the Express and Mirror. Jane provides a range of bespoke consultancy services including content creation, media strategy, writing reports and press materials, crisis communications, media advisory boards and media training.Her book, How to Have a Baby and Still Live in the Real World has been published in the UK, USA, Russia and Sweden. Pregnancy: the Best for You and Your Baby has been published in countries including the Netherlands, France, Spain and the Czech Republic.

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