Has the NHS become yet another humanitarian crisis?

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It’s perennial – problems in the NHS.

But presently the momentum is massive; even the respected private charity, The Red Cross, has come out with an emotive call for help for the NHS saying it is in ‘a humanitarian crisis’.  A & E’s are said to be closing their doors. However, according to a member of staff in a large hospital locally they will never actually close doors – maybe refer patients on to another A & E.

Almost like an off-the-cuff thought Jeremy Hunt is proposing to rescind the maximum four hour wait rule for anyone whose case isn’t considered urgent’.   Talk about ‘slippery slope’ politics!

So what, we should ask ourselves, contributes to this influx of people going to A & E? Is it because the waiting room chairs are comfy, or they like the atmosphere, sitting in virtual silence listening to people moan or vomit?

Or, is it because their GP’s are closed every day around 6.00 pm and don’t open to the patients until around 9.00 the next day? Do they go to A & E because the GP’s work a four and half day week and close every Friday evening, with no provision until Monday.  The few walk-in centres scattered around, mainly in big towns, are closing for lack of funding – and the waiting times there were around four hours anyway.

It could be said that the vacuum at times like Christmas is immense and totally predictable.  The GP practices closed on the 23rd December, opened on the 28th (had their usual half day closing on the 28th), and after opening their illustrious portals on the 29th and 30th, closed again until January 3rd.

GP’s are our lifeline and do brilliant work when they deign to be on duty.  They are exceptionally well paid for running their practices as private businesses yet if you ever have to ask for a home visit you need to be a lawyer with prepared brief to get past the receptionist.

Of course they have their problems – if a doctor leaves they can’t get replacements.   Sometimes six months or more elapses where they employ locums, at huge cost no doubt, and with less than satisfactory results for the patient.

Health Secretaries have been alerted for years to the need to train more doctors.  Currently, I understand that it is estimated that by 2023/2024 (in six or seven years), there should be new doctors coming into the system.  Mr Hunt, please pay attention!

Another possibility to alleviate the strain on resources – refuse to treat the obese, the drink drivers, the drug users, the smokers.   So where exactly would this stop? Refuse to treat the homeless, those with a criminal record, the ones who swear in the waiting room – those who can’t speak English! Oh yes, and the elderly who haven’t got long to go whatever we do for them.  At what point does the NHS become a sequel to the famous George Orwell novel?

Another idea – let some ‘expert’ draw up a graph, a diagram. illustrating exactly what our entire NHS would look like if every foreign doctor, nurse, technician, cleaner – was ‘lifted’ out of the system.    THEN we would have a humanitarian crisis – as hospitals, GP practices, not to mention pharmacies would in reality close their doors.

Unfortunately the latter scenario is not as far-fetched as we may think.   Brexit will almost inevitably result in us adhering to a No Freedom of Movement policy.  Masses of good foreign doctors are indeed already fearing losing the right to work in UK.

Ending on a practical rather than a speculative note, shall

we just say – The NHS needs more money, beyond doubt, but it also needs some admin staff with skills in Buying, in Economics, and with downright organizational skills. It needs sectors, such as GPs to be flexible and realistic and it needs immediate liaison with the Social Sector.


Dorrie Jane Bridge

Dorrie Jane Bridge

Dorrie is a former educationalist with a major interest in politics … she writes our Grey Pride section.

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