Written by By Rebecca Harms, CNN
Despite spending more than a decade working for the NHS, Amir Walker is in no way complacent. The 48-year-old GP, who left last year, says working for the government-funded health service is a thankless job; perpetually cash-strapped and thus riddled with inefficiencies.
But Walker, a fully qualified GP, only seems to be angry. The primary care specialist feels he’s let down by the health service, having witnessed patients waiting for hours in hospital, and shortcomings in the on-call system.
However, when Walker received an anonymous note alleging he was caught on CCTV in the foyer of No 10 Downing Street during Prime Minister Theresa May’s 2015 “Christmas Party” — and became so incensed by it that he confronted her son — he received one of the biggest payoffs in healthcare history.
This was after he not only reprimanded his former boss, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for primary care Sarah Hall, for inappropriate conduct but detailed the surveillance on his voicemail to her direct superior.
“What you have done is disgusting,” he was reported to have reportedly yelled.
A permanent change of address
In the 2,000 pages of settlement papers that followed, Walker’s fate was sealed. He would become a voluntary deputy consultant, rolling the sentence into three years of unpaid work. The “informal” settlement made public earlier this year closed a major case against Walker, exposing him to potential compensation — more than the UK’s NHS spends on cancer therapy annually.
It also, in the words of Walker’s wife, Heather, “stripped him of the self-confidence and self-esteem” that enabled him to succeed as a surgeon in a top medical school.
“I couldn’t have done this job without the NHS,” he now says.
“I will have something in a jar in my study, next to the patterned tie in my gym bag. That is what the NHS bought me. The ability to move from here into someone that works in a great way. That is the legacy that I feel like has been taken away from me. “
In recent years, the NHS in the UK has been at the receiving end of scathing criticism and suggestions from opposition parties of premature austerity.
It’s not new territory: Since Cameron brought in his 10-year plan in 2010, the sector has been forced to impose a pay freeze, cancel plans for doctors’ nursing qualifications and significantly pare back schemes to avoid deficit estimates.
Despite this, research by Open Market found the NHS remains the second most popular social enterprise, outstripping the popular areas of national parks and the National Trust.