Sir Bob Jones

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman had the misfortune to be struck with multiple sclerosis in 2018. This is an affliction in which the body’s all-important immune system basically turns on itself and instead of its protective role, attacks the body in diverse ways.

In a recent interview as part of a series on disability, Golriz described the idiotic response from her female GP when her problem first arose. Such stories are common and at their root lies a widespread misunderstanding about doctors’ roles and capabilities. The worst incident I ever heard about was a few years back. Pressing one of my older daughters to have a colonoscopy, she sought her female doctor’s opinion. This GP told her I was talking nonsense as women can’t get bowel cancer. For unknown reasons, New Zealand has the highest rate of female bowel cancer in the world.

A doctor is accurately described as a general practitioner, which in short, means a generalist. He or she is only trained to deal with the most common everyday ailments.

I once teased a GP mate re doctors’ practises of someone complaining about a pain of some sort and being told to come back in a week if it’s still there. He pointed out that they rarely do for the very good reason that the immune system will have sprung into action and cured whatever was troubling them. But if they return he probes deeper and decides which specialist to refer them to.

Over my lifetime some doctors and specialists have saved my life while others through outrageous incompetence have caused me considerable permanent damage. For six decades I’ve worked with a wide range of professionals and woke up early that the vast majority can handle everyday issues but only a few can cope with things out of the ordinary. That’s true of all activities whether tradespeople, professionals or whatever.

We can only wish Golriz luck in handling this affliction which with treatment can generally ensure a normal life for most sufferers. My advice to her though is not to rely on the relevant medical professional she’s dealing with but instead, to stay abreast of the latest MS developments as it’s odds on her professional consultant won’t.

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The Role of Doctors
Bob Jones

Bob Jones

Sir Robert ‘Bob’ Jones — now New Zealand’s largest private office building owner in Wellington and Auckland, and with substantial holdings in Sydney and Glasgow, totalling in excess of two billion...