Firstly I have to admit that writing anything criticising our incredible National Health Service really hurts me! They have fixed us up as best they can, and delivered our children too. In my instance they have saved mine and my wife’s lives and continue to keep me alive against all odds. The incredible frontline staff have been there when we needed them most. This was a great ‘British Institution,’ and haven’t we been so proud of it? Nobody wants to see it fail, unless you believe the conspiracy theory about politicians wanting to sell it off.
But it has been failing for some time, even pre-covid. So stretched for most of the time, and panicking every time winter arrived, as flu etc would dominate. Frequently long waiting lists even for routine operations. Cancer care barely average, compared with other countries across the globe. All of this we had begun to accept. “Why could we expect better from a public system,” “the staff are all doing their best.” Now doubt at all that the staff are working incredibly hard, too hard in most cases. Why should these people work in such continuing stressful environments? It feels from both sides that this was the new normal.
Then came the pandemic and the truth is found. Drastically underprepared with little stock of PPE despite warnings in 2016. Of course the staff and buildings were quickly at breaking point. Drastically searching the world for protective clothing at the last minute. Weak leadership from Government and NHS England leading quickly to a decision that our entire Health Service must focus totally on covid. It became challenging to see a GP even with a tele appointment, and hospitals wanted everyone to stay away due to the virus risk. It doesn’t take a genius to establish how this policy would go in the longer term. But the politicians persisted with “protect the NHS” and “we are being guided by the science.”
The massive positive, and best decision in these 18 months is the vaccine rollout. With a large percentage of our nation now better protected to cope with any further outbreaks. Plus incredibly we still have our NHS. Except we don’t really! Just a pale imitation of what we once remember of that great institution. It is still tricky to get a face to face with our GPs. Primary care beginning also to show the cracks of under resourcing, challenging working conditions and poor morale. Less people seeing this as an attractive career.
All referrals backing up, even the less complicated. As hospitals struggle to find a new way of working that is so desperately required. Cancer patients and others facing earlier deaths due to diagnostic and treatment delays. 5 million + people on waiting lists with no chance of ever getting to the end of that in a timely fashion. Many will die before they receive the treatment they require. Add into the mix the increasing issues of mental health, with such few resources to even help. That must be what the Government want as there is little talk of the general health of the nation? Only the C word, which for the last 18 months has not been cancer.
The NHS was created to ensure that we ALL get the help we need when we require it. But that is no longer the case. The system is now rationing care! Quite simply it is broken, we can all see that. I would go as far as to say it is not safe for patients or staff currently. It just cannot continue the way it is. As I mentioned earlier weak leadership in the service has led us here. All people in senior roles, agreeing with every Government decision. Waiting for state honours and a fat pension. What really is the point of NHS England? Yet another toothless department.
Is this deliberate? Will the service be privatised? Even if we start today we will not see any impactful benefit for at least 5-10 years. For many major diseases our survival and quality of life rates won’t even be in the top 50 in the world. Not the wonderful care that everyone around the world associates with our NHS. Why on earth do we continue to ignore the major killers in this country? Where are Sage on this issue? What are the scientists saying?
In this case the blame culture is useless, all politicians involved over the last few decades are to blame, but we are where we are. Like every other industry we must find more impactful ways of working. Creating a working environment without fear. Let the staff engage in the way things are run. Like most other businesses. Not call them whistle blowers when they speak out. We must admit the problem before we can solve it. Continuing as we are will put the entire health of our country at risk for very many years in the future. There is no quick fix, but we must make change now before it’s too late.
As always these are my personal opinions based on my own experiences and judgements. Feel free to share your own below.