Skip to main content

A deep malaise at the heart of the NHS

Readers of this blog will know that I have been very unwell. I have already recounted some of my experiences as an NHS patient. I am slowly recovering and I have had several days now free from pain. In my journey through hospital and after care I found plenty of examples of compassionate and caring medical practice, but caring can break down if stretched to limits through insufficient resources.

This much I found in the care of the district nurses. One night when I was in severe pain I called to get attention. They were very busy covering a whole county but would try to get to me later. They kept me informed as the night progressed and in the early hours of the morning called to say they would be with me soon. Two nurses arrived. They had worked solidly through the night. Nevertheless they came with smiles and comfort. Sadly they couldn't do much to help me. It struck me how little information they had about my history. I was barely on their radar, and they had not the authority to do much to help me. That did not stop me getting a call from them later to find out how I was.

In desperation I contacted my GP. How could weeks have gone by since being discharged from hospital without any contact? All I had been told by the hospital was that I would receive a visit from the district nurse to remove a catheter. That happened two weeks later. By that time I was in considerable pain and infection had taken hold. My GP told me he knew nothing of my history. He had received nothing from the hospital. He had been unaware of my condition. He acted with efficiency and with care. He telephoned a couple of day later to ask how I was and to put me on another course of antibiotics. I had now lived with weeks of pain and painkillers that were slowly losing their effect. I felt isolated, the more so since I discovered I was not on anyone's radar. I only got attention if I called for it, and on each occasion I had to repeat my history because they had not received notes from the hospital.

These problems are not the result of a lack of compassion. They don't stem from inefficiency of staff. It is systemic. There is a deep malaise at the heart of the NHS. It results from underfunding and a reorganisation that has produce chaos and a lack of joined up care. It results in large part from savage cuts that have impacted dramatically on front line care. It will take this government no time at all to destroy the NHS; it will take decades or more to rebuild it.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't

No evidence for vaccine link with autism

Public health bodies are worried that an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations is leading to a resurgence of diseases in childhood that we had all but eradicated.  Misinformation and scare stories about the harmful effects of vaccines abound on the internet and in social media.  Where they are based on 'science', it is highly selective, and often reliance is placed on falsehoods.  Conspiracy theories also abound - cover-ups, deception, lies. As a result, too many parents are shunning vaccinations for their children.  So, what does the published, peer-reviewed literature tell us about vaccincations? Are they safe and effective, or are there long term harmful effects?  A new report now provides some of the answers. New evidence published in the Cochrane Library today finds MMR, MMRV, and MMR+V vaccines are effective and that they are not associated with increased risk of autism. Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (also known as chickenpox) are infectious diseases cau