Every day is a school day! This is an expression I use with my friends. Meaning that despite our age, we are still learning so much! It is now on a different level since coronavirus first entered our lives, around two years ago. Adapting to change is probably one of the biggest things. Even the common name of the virus has altered in that time! Personally I have always embraced change. Variety has always kept me on my toes. But even I have struggled at times with the constant uncertainty of everything in my life. So many important things now totally out of our control.
But ultimately what good are most things in our life without health? Fortunately, for many of us, we haven’t had to think too hard about that. The NHS, despite its shortcomings has been there to ‘pick us up,’ if anything goes wrong. But no longer is that the case. Our creaking health service has finally broken, under pressure from the virus. Timely treatment for anything now is almost impossible. From basic to complex, new knees to cancer. Nothing can be taken for granted. We are all just hoping that we will not require any clinical help. From GPs to operations, everything is grinding to a halt under the weight of covid pressure.
Our waiting lists are breaking new records. Currently sitting at approximately six million people needing surgical support. One in ten of us astoundingly! Many of those awaiting critical treatment. Some dying even before they can be helped. Situations that I am personally hearing of daily. No matter how bad these waves of covid are, our policy of delaying all other treatments will ultimately kill far more. It already is. Of course I get it. Our services have been under resourced for many years. Not enough staff or money now to do the work we need, even without the virus.
How we fix this going forward, is not really a discussion for today. Helping these people is. This situation is totally unacceptable. Quality of life for much of the nation is disappearing rapidly. With little hope of things improving in the next few years. That’s the view of people trying to use the service. What about the incredible people working in it? Having to tell people that timely treatment is not available to them. Two years of continual pressure from both patients and Government. With less than average pay for many, and challenging working conditions. How attractive does that look to the new generation of employees?
The craziness of what is happening these days, is that even the NHS is kept in the dark about Government plans. Ideas go public without the proper resources available, creating shortages of test kits and up to seven hour queues for vaccinations. Will we really all feel more reassured with three jabs? So maybe we won’t die of covid. But many of us will not be able to receive any other treatments we might require.
There is a group referred to as ‘the vulnerable.’ That is getting bigger now. Not because of the virus, but all the other conditions we are open to, without treatment available. This is all of us! Our parents, children and grandchildren etc. Many times I hear my era called the ‘golden generation.’ We have been fortunate with property, pensions, technology and up to recent years healthcare. What legacy are we leaving? Irreversibly damaging our planet with crude economic policies. Then crashing our healthcare systems with nothing sustainable to take their place.
Our world is much smaller these days and these issues are very definitely global. We have seen what focussed collaboration can do with vaccines etc for covid. The world will not solve this issue until we work globally. I believe that we must also work smarter and more efficiently with cancer. Many financially incentivised projects around the world. With little shared information, we cannot continue this way. Data is the new gold, and it must be shared to give us any chance of progress against such powerful diseases.
Time is the one thing that many people affected by cancer and other chronic diseases don’t have. I get the fact that covid needs to be dealt with, and is taking up so much of our healthcare resources. But with constantly delayed diagnosis and treatment, these people will die. No ifs and buts. There is no hierarchy in death numbers of course. Every life is important which is why I have written this piece. We now have a ‘National Covid Service,’ with virtually all other conditions put on hold.
That might seem logical to ‘bean counters,’ or system analysts. But we are talking about people’s lives. Alongside the logistics, we must ensure that everyone gets a fair chance of receiving the care they need. We have not been doing that for a long time. We are now openly discriminating against patient types. In our country discrimination is a subject we take very seriously, (supposedly). We spend millions on equality and diversity, but here we are doing it in plain site!
A health system that is discriminatory? Of course every system is, but never in this way. I personally believe that this Government are guilty of a form of manslaughter by negligence. Allowing people to die who would otherwise still be alive if they received the treatment they required. Only just today I received a call from a great friend of mine. Telling me her sister in law was dying at home. Her breast cancer had advanced due to a twelve week delay, and there is now nothing they can do. Dead before Christmas, and far from being the only one. The one overriding job of Government is to protect us ALL. That is very definitely not happening. Many will not have the time to wait for the virus to be gone. If it ever will be?
I really wish I could sign off this year with a positive piece, but I would be kidding myself and you, if I wrote one. As always, these are my personal views based on my experiences. Please feel free to add your own in the comments below.