The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Sunday, 10 May 2015

What is the future of the NHS?

We all know what was announced on Friday. 

Most people I spoke to were surprised by the result of the 2015 General Election. I thought most people were tired of Cameron, clearly not!

Before writing this post, I have spoken about politics and the NHS, but shied away from admitting which party I was going to back and simply eluded to it. I do not have one party that I wholly support and I don't accept all of their propositions. However, this year I did vote Labour, and yes, I am very disappointed with the result. I haven't always voted for Labour, but after examining the potential future of the NHS in the hands of each political party, it was a no brainer to vote for them. This was what I based my vote almost entirely from, as I figured out that detrimental changes to our health service would have the biggest effect on my life. For some people their main concern is their disability benefit, mansion tax or free school dinners. Everyone should vote for their own best interests; I don't think any less of anyone who has voted for a party other than Labour. We have our own prerogatives.

But something like the NHS, surely this has such a profound effect on most of us? Even if we have little need for the service, we all have a sick friend or relative that is profoundly reliant on what it can provide. Why would we jeopardise further a broken system?

This is where some of you are getting bored. You're probably fed up of emotive petitions and Guardian articles about how the NHS is going to die that are circulating your Facebook/Twitter feed. 

Admittedly, I think there's a lot that most people don't know and wouldn't realise unless you worked for the NHS or have been an acute patient over the past 5 years.   

Major changes the coalition made from 2010-2015 were the selling of the NHS to private firms and shutting down lots of A&E departments, along with some small community hospitals. They also introduced CCGs, but that's another story entirely. As you've already heard in the media, there's been a lot more pressure in A&E, making this field even more unpopular for doctors and causing the ridiculous waiting times. The lack of hospitals have led to a shortage of beds. These two issues may cut the deficit, but they also cut lives short. The long waiting lists at GP practices push more people in A&E, only worsening the issue. 

When it comes to privatisation, I am shocked. Although only a small percent (I think I read somewhere it's around 10%, correct me if I'm wrong) there are significant drawbacks to this approach. At a local privately-run day surgery ward within a NHS community hospital I know of, they cream off the healthiest patients and leaving the older, 'more complex' patients to the NHS-owned departments. This inefficient and backwards system is completely unfair in my opinion. Why should the arguably more deserving patients have to wait longer in order to protect success rates? Allegedly, privatisation helps reduce the deficit and reduce backlog of surgeries. But quite frankly, why do we want to have a health service that fails to serve the individuals that rely on it the most?

By closing community hospitals, A&E departments and other facilities such as various eating disorder treatment facilities, the NHS is becoming less geographically tangible with the people who use it. Sadly, there is an undeniable correlation with poverty and poor health. By limiting the accessibility of NHS treatment, those who probably rely on it most are the ones who miss out; those patients that the NHS was constructed for. 

I implore you to read this article which interviews NHS staff and their thoughts on how their workforce has been changed since the tories came into power. It is utterly devastating, and makes me worried about what system I am hoping to work for in the future. In addition, this article shows the open letter to the government whereby NHS staff plead for changes in the running of this system.

In case you were wondering, I don't think the Tories are evil, and neither are their supporters. I don't think that the Tories are fascist money-grabbers who want the poor to suffer. I don't fully support all of Labour's ideas, for example the mansion tax. Clearly there are a lot of people who wanted a Conservative government, so that's fair enough. I can accept the premise that some Tories hold, being that it is a government that "encourages hard work and rewards it." But really that's missing the point. Giving everyone a real chance to be successful is the way I want my country to be run. 

How can you expect a disparity in privilege and opportunity to encourage a net growth in development of the UK?



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Monday, 4 May 2015

Roses


I got these in the post by surprise from my lovely family, what a lovely surprise. 

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