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

A time for every purpose

All life moves. Or, more precisely, all life moves purposefully.  This is true even for trees and plants.  Movement is essential for maintaining life.  Animals migrate; plants disperse.  Some form of migration is an ingredient of all life.  For many organisms, it is a key function of reproduction.  We don't reproduce merely to create a new organism, but also to disperse the population - finding new fertile ground, or resources. Reproduction is a form of migration. Reproduction isn't merely to replicate. Reproduction produces change and diversity.  While we may have strong resemblences in families, we also have differences.  Creating a difference is how evolution works.  In this sense, nature is a continuous exploratory process, finding what works best.  Nature senses change and responds.  Some of this is immediate and physiological or behavioural; some of it is over generations.  If we look at a forest over long periods of time, we would see that it shifts. There is a movement

Noise pollution puts nature at risk

 "I just want a bit of peace and quiet!" Let's get away from all the hustle and bustle; the sound of endless traffic on the roads, of the trains on the railway, and the planes in the sky; the incessant drone; the noise. We live in a world of man-made noise; screeching, bellowing, on-and-on in an unmelodious cacophony.  This constant background noise has now become a significant health hazard.   With average background levels of 60 decibels, those who live in cities are often exposed to noise over 85 decibels, enough to cause significant hearing loss over time.  It causes stress, high blood pressure, headache and loss of sleep and poor health and well-being.   In nature, noise has content and significance.  From the roar of the lion, the laughing of a hyena,  communication is essential for life; as the warning of danger, for bonding as a group or a pair, finding a mate, or for establishing a position in a hierarchy - chattering works.  Staying in touch is vital to working