Operating on the customer's heart

Hugh Burkitt

How does it feel to be the customer when your heart is being operated on? Hugh Burkitt describes his recent encounter with the business end of healthcare.

It is a cliché in marketing that we must put the customer at the heart of the business, but I recently found that my heart was at the centre of someone else's business. I needed an operation to repair a leaking aortic heart valve. Two organisations have helped put me back at my desk - the NHS and Aviva Healthcare - and I am profoundly grateful to them both.


It all began back in May, when I decided after several weeks of coughing that I should get along to my doctor for a check-up. The cardiologist was brisk to the point of being brusque. He had no 'bedside manner' but he was logical, clear and direct. Having identified the problem he recommended I go and see a surgeon. I asked: 'What will happen if I don't have an operation?' 'Your heart will fail,' he said.