Congratulations to Imperial for daring to tell the Truth!

TV series proves a hit – with public very much on side of honest hospital revelations

Now it’s up to us to carry on and see where we can work effectively, to hammer home the message that we ALL have to ensure the NHS can continue to provide adequate health care for everyone.

HospitalPhew!  I never would have thought the NHS would be brave enough to allow this TV documentary series to be filmed, but as a frequent patient at Imperial Trust’s hospitals that were used for filming, it told it exactly as it is.

But will we continue to talk glibly about “Save Our NHS”, and overlook the fact that if we don’t help it to run properly then it won’t be there forever.

TV showed despondent hospital staff, desperately trying to paper over the cracks and give us the best care possible.  There was one of my favourite Consultants, not the cheerful person who makes me smile, but bent over in dejection when his carefully planned procedure for a patient fell apart for want of a bed in Intensive Care; and so many other brilliant moments that captured honestly what life is actually like in today’s NHS.

In typical British fashion, are we expecting NHS staff to work all hours, but think that a few expressions of sympathy will make up for the debate that needs to come immediately, to say where is the money coming from to enable the NHS to continue working?  The bleeding hearts were wringing their hands and loudly saying how they ‘felt’ for the NHS – but bleeding hearts aren’t going to provide better care.

Will the Public take note?

If any Minister is brave enough to say that taxes have to be increased to pay for a modern health service, will we scream, jump up and down, and go on futile demonstrations?

Or are we grown-up enough to admit that we should pay more towards our healthcare?  This will mean having to re-consider what we pay for.  People will complain and say they are already overstretched financially.  Oh yeah!  Instead of splashing out for a 3-week family holiday to Australia to impress the neighbours, why not take the kids to Greece at a fifth of the price?  Or tell daughter she can’t have a designer handbag for her birthday – the money is going to her healthcare? Does your kid really need the latest mobile – or should the monthly cost pay for his little brother’s eczema treatment to be fast-tracked?

When you look at what we spend on consumer goods, and what we spend on our health, the comparison can be shaming.

We have to give back

Now is the time when we have to think what life would be like if there were no NHS, and no infrastructure to support all the complex services that make up the whole.

The NHS is made up of many complex problems, and there is NO one solution that will fit all.

A Dutch Physio told me recently, “at home, we are expected to take control of our health; in Britain you leave it to the State”.  She is right, and perhaps the most astonishing fact is that so many people assume because the NHS is “free at the point of delivery”, it doesn’t cost us anything. Well, it does, and we aren’t paying enough into the communal pot to keep it even ticking over. Either we make a big fuss and demand that our local MP do something about this, or we had better start saving up for when our GP tells us that they are sorry, but “funding isn’t there for the life-saving operation you desperately need”

We need to take Action

As politicians are too scared, we need to take command of our health.  We need to decide what is important to us, and what NHS money is to be spent on. – or at least one small part of it.

We could start by taking action on ‘ownership’ of one small problem in our local hospital.  Are cataract operations subject to long delays in local hospitals?  Or hip operations?  Or what other services are our neighbours finding difficulties in accessing?

Putting your money where your mouth is

Talk to your MP, GP, Local Councillor and neighbours.  And a suggestion.  Select one service that is being cut, then go to your hospital and ask the CEO what it would take to put this service back in place.

Most CEOs are up to their eyes trying to work out how to stretch their dwindling budget, and would probably welcome a sensible dialogue to find out what patients consider a priority. Their chief Consultants might be clamouring for all the latest gadgets, but as far as you are concerned it is more important to get Gran a new hip, rather than she should have a faster, quieter MRI Scan with the latest machine.

Get involved

Otherwise how are CEOs to know what the local population considers important, rather than getting the latest gizmo for the hospital. You and your family are going to need your local hospital, so make sure it is there – and providing the care you need.

And yes, there are Hospital Governors. But meeting so many of them, there are far too many sitting on hospital boards, loving the self-important feeling the post gives them, but not actually doing anything useful.  I am being harsh on those who really have your interests at heart, so if you know a Governor who does that, cherish them.  But there are far too many time-servers doing the job for the self-important role it gives them, and are too grand to actually volunteer to hand out glasses of water in A & E on a Saturday night, so they can see what is happening at the ‘coal-face’.

Whilst an in-patient at St. Mary’s, it was obvious that the Call Bells on the Ward where I was had been out of order for some time.  The nurses were rushed off their feet, and just didn’t have time to report these.  So when I returned home, I did – and wrote about the results in my Diary (click on top of page).

So People Power can work – and you have time to be persistent which a nurse does not.

So if something isn’t working, take ‘ownership’. Perhaps take it on yourselves to work out an efficient use of volunteers to back-up the Porters at your hospital.  There are never enough, and the shortage frequently holds up Outpatient appointments because patients are stuck in the Transport Lounge for up to an hour, having just come in by hospital transport and needing to be wheeled to Outpatients.  Although you can’t have Gran riding around at the whim of a ton-up merchant, it can’t be too difficult to devise a system to provide sane and sensible porters to wheel her to appointments without a half-hour wait.

Offer simple little things, and then go for the biggies like fundraising for a new scanner.





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