Saturday, 21 April 2012

NHS – it’s business as usual

As the dust is settling from the government’s (hardly surprising) victory over NHS reform there are several options open to anyone involved in the state funded health provision.

a)    Suspended animation – wondering what to do next and getting nowhere fast while pondering.
b)    Mass exodus as those who decided to stay and tough it out give up.
      c)    Panic.
d)    Gritty determination to fight or block any changes that they don’t support, rightly or wrongly.
e)    Get on with the doing the best job they can in difficult and uncertain circumstances.
f)     Plan the best way forward, creating realistic strategies and keeping an open mind.

I suspect there is a little of all of the above going on up and down the country in GP practices, hospitals and community service centres. However, as predicted and thanks to the majority of excellent individuals and teams still committed to the NHS, options e) and f) appear to be flourishing. I have three front line examples of business as usual this week:

The emergency hospital admission: Never far away from drama, another family member was urgently admitted to hospital at the weekend. Point 1 – she saw an emergency doctor within half an hour of calling the out of hours service. Point 2 - she was admitted via the emergency department with very little delay. Point 3 – she made it onto a ward and into a bed within a reasonable amount of time. Point 4 -  although diagnosis was complicated, she had a CT scan and a comprehensive range of tests all within 20 hours of admission. Point 5 – she stayed in hospital for five days until the condition was diagnosed and controlled and discharged at a manageable time.

The urgent primary care consultation: A colleague had a nasty cat bite which by midday yesterday was looking very angry (the bite not the cat). She called her GP to make an appointment and was told there were none available that day. She then explained the situation and was invited to come along to the GP surgery and join the emergency queue. She was seen and treated with antibiotics within the hour.

Community nursing: A neighbour is recovering from an ulcerated leg which requires daily dressings. She has been given the option of going into the local surgery or receiving a home visit from a nurse who dresses the wound daily. The situation is not ideal because, unlike the old days, it’s not the same nurse every day but any one of several from a central pool. They take polaroid photos daily to enable some sort of continuity of care and to assess the healing process. Not once has a nurse failed to turn up as agreed and the wound is healing nicely.

Just mundane tales of everyday folk interacting with the NHS.

Yes, we are facing some real challenges ahead - the uncertainty of necessary budget restraints, the disruption of some unnecessary  beaurocratic changes and the terrifying public health epidemics that modern living is creating. Yes, I know that not everyone’s experience with the NHS is as text book as the examples above.

But despite all this, let us not forget that every day, and night, across the UK, most of us are receiving good care, free at the point of delivery, given by people who are committed to our wellbeing.


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