One of many reasons I never expect to return to the UK is that—after experiencing excellent care from polite and courteous private doctors abroad—I could not face standing in line with bored pensioners filling their days, malingerers looking to be signed off work and others that I would cheerfully pay good money to avoid. All this, just to get five minutes with a GP who would probably not look up from his desk. Yet starting a private service to sell their hard-earned skills for profit simply does not occur to these bright young people.
They are gifted, intelligent and well-placed to serve their fellow man. Their potential for a satisfying, rewarding career is enormous. Yet they feel impotent in the face of state incompetence and bleat like unemployed dockers. Yes it's difficult to compete with "free" services. Yes most people will stand in line rather than pay. But in business you don't need everyone to be your customer; just enough people. A substantial minority would pay a premium for time, attention and courtesy. Why does that not occur to these talented, presumably highly-intelligent individuals?
The problem may be that in choosing medicine in the first place, they had already ruled out a life in business. Their most likely career path was into the socialised health service, so presumably that (to me) grim prospect was appealing? Perhaps they see themselves as "caring" types and are snooty about "money-grubbing." Perhaps, in short, like so many in Britain, their spirits have been neutered by Socialist indoctrination.
Tom quite correctly points out that many people would happily pay to see a GP and, indeed, there are private practices out there (that one's in Scotland, no less). His services do not come "free", but neither are they expensive. In fact, they are rather less than one would pay to a plumber or an electrician. So, why is it that these trainee doctors bleat, as Tom puts it, "like unemployed dockers"?
As Mr Paine points out, those who leave the profession are pissing away an expensive qualification which is, to a great extent, paid for by taxpayers; indeed, as Doctor Crippen consistently points out, it cost some £250,000 to train a doctor. I wonder, would these young medical students be less inclined to throw their qualifications away were we to charge them for the cost of their qualification? Possibly.
Long-term readers will know that, for personal reasons, the idea that a doctor should qualify and then chuck away that opportunity enrages your humble Devil for personal reasons. On a purely philosophical level, that someone should come so far in such a demanding and valuable (both financially and in the matter of potential future earnings and future good that might be done) profession and then quit is quite simply ridiculous.
These unemployed new doctors blistered their brains studying to qualify in a demanding profession. Outside Soviet Britain, it is perhaps the most respected and valued profession of all. If they don't want to cash in on their investment by emigrating, why don't they just "hang a shingle" and offer private services?
Quite. Medicine is a vocation: had I not buggered up Chemistry A Level and had thus entered UCL to study medicine, I would not have left because I felt that the NHS was being fucked up. I was never a big fan of the NHS anyway but, most importantly, I didn't want to do medicine so that I could be looked after from cradle—or university—to grave.
Times have changed since your humble Devil was offered—after interview—three B grades to get into medicine; I sincerely doubt that any medical school will require anything less than three A grades. Minimum. The people who get into study medicine are not stupid.
So why, if they are really wedded to this profession (and however much I may disagree with any of the medico bloggers politically, I admire the tenacity of those still in the business), would they throw away their hard-won career because the state-run NHS is shit.
You are intelligent people: look at other options: go private. Apart from anything else, I feel sure that your NHS compatriots will be joining you in the relatively near future: an intelligent person would see it as advantageous to get in on the ground floor...