2015 - Quo vadis?


Somewhere in the UK, sometime in the future, I imagine this conversation taking place between young and old.

"Granny, you were a doctorer - weren't you?"

A doctor, darling. Many, many years ago now.

"But how did you do it? In history my teacher said you just sat in a room with a desk and computer and talked to people. Sometimes you had to touch their bodies - even if they were dirty or had diseases."

Well, there certainly were desks and computers, but the main thing was listening to what the people had to say.

"But how did you know what was wrong, without scans? Weren't you just guessing?"

Over the years I found that if you knew your patients, listened well and asked the right questions, you could make good guesses.

"You got it wrong sometimes though …"

Oh yes - sometimes. Only those people who had certain problems were allowed to have scans. There weren't multiple scanners in every town - we had to ration a lot of things. It was part of our job.

"And there were other doctors that treated people in big buildings called hoptels, weren't there?"

Yes - the sickest patients went to hospital. They might have an operation or need treatment that couldn't be given at home.

"And those doctors might cut into them with knives, or give them poisons to try to kill their cancers and make them better."

Yes, darling. We didn't have nanotechnology then. Everyone did their best.

"Wow - that must have hurt a lot of people. I bet people only ever got better if they could see the cleverest doctors. It was really barbaric."

We didn't think so at the time. Lots of people appreciated being looked after by other human beings - the human touch. It meant a lot and not all problems could be diagnosed by a scanner and fixed by a micro robot.

"Really - like what?"

People could become unbelievably sad. Some even took their own lives because they felt so helpless .

"That's awful. Why did they feel like that, Gran?"

Oh, lots of reasons. Relationships, money, work. Sometimes no reason. It was just there inside them.

"And do people still feel that way?"

I guess there are fewer things to be sad about these days, but I think people just got used to coping without doctors.

"But who looks after them, now we have no carers?"

I don't know darling. They must look after themselves.

"Why did doctors stop helping people?"

There just wasn't enough money to pay for all the people needed to look after all the sick people. They had to find a new way of managing illness, before all the money ran out. People tried lots of different ways to stretch the money, but no way was ever good enough to cope with the ever-growing population and their expectations.

"I suppose this way is cheaper Gran, and there must be fewer mistakes. Robots don't make mistakes. But they don't care or hold your hand."

No love, they don't. That's what Grans are for.

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Have a very happy and healthy New Year.