IT is with great satisfaction that I write this letter of compliment.
I am a white male in my 40s, in what would be classified as "the historically advantaged" of our new South Africa.
I am well educated and a director of various investment companies.
Due to the economic events post-2008, I have found myself in the curious position of having illiquid assets with an unexpectedly low cash flow.
One of the casualties of this new reality has been my medical aid.
Over the last two years I have fallen seriously ill, with progressively increasing pain and weakness. The fear of confronting prohibitively expensive private medical care, and the subsequent likelihood of ending up in a government hospital, prevented me seeking medical attention until I despaired for my life.
This fear of government hospitals: the perception of incompetence, unhygienic facilities, overcrowding, corruption and mismanagement is pervasive within the so-called middle and upper classes of our society. In countless conversations with friends and associates this fear was entrenched in my own mind.
My experience over the last months has, fortunately, been very contrary to public opinion. I wish to commend the doctors and sisters of the renal unit at Livingstone Hospital, and Dr Gerda Wahl, head of neurology (and staff) at Provincial Hospital.
Their extensive professionalism and attention to clinical detail and interrogative, time-consuming diagnostics has, in my humble opinion, saved my life. That these valuable senior physicians have chosen to use their lengthy training, vast knowledge and extensive experience in public service over lucrative private practice is commendable.
I thank Senior Sister Haan (and staff) of M3 Ward, Provincial Hospital for their medical professionalism and personable attitudes, which actually surpassed my many experiences of two private hospitals in Port Elizabeth.
If one could look beyond new paint and glossy tiles, smart reception areas and on site "a la carte" restaurants, one would realise that our government is delivering a service that is seldom valued and much criticised by those who don't need it, and that the contemptuous dismissal of the National Health Insurance is a tragic rejection of a plan that is far better than no plan at all.
I refuse to believe that the experience I have had, which so bettered my expectations, is because of the colour of my skin or my social standing.
I have, perhaps for the first time, realised that I am no better or worse than any of my fellow citizens, and we all deserve adequate health care (and other social benefits for that matter).
In all my interaction with the professionals of these hospitals there has been a constant cry from all levels, not for better personal remuneration, but over the constant battle for adequate nurse and doctor numbers.
I only ask that the Department of Health heed the cries of the specialists for adequate staffing lest their services be lost for good, to the grave detriment of the people of the Eastern Cape
Kevin Filen, Port Elizabeth