After a week of mock exams, I decided it was time to start thinking about the real world again, and catch up on all the news stories and articles I’ve missed in the past weeks due to my revision. It is undeniable that in the past year the NHS has endured severe turmoil, the good, the bad and the ugly. How can we save a system which does so much good throughout our country? I came across an article in which the Royal College of Nursing has said that ‘conditions in the NHS are the worst they have experienced’. This is incredibly alarming, because it means an incredible system which provides opportunities for people from all walks of life could be in jeopardy.
Additionally to this, leading doctors have warned Theresa May that lives are being put at risk due to pressures on the NHS. It is very easy to get caught up in the news and money surrounding the NHS, but it is incredibly important to remember that they key aim of this institution is to provide healthcare to everyone, and to benefit the lives of people.
Earlier this week, the BBC released shocking record numbers of patients who were facing long waits in A&E. This document showed that this winter has proven to be the most difficult in over 10 years, with almost a 1/4 of patients had had to wait more than 4 hours in A&E just last week. This means that only 75% of patients were seen within the target hours, at no fault to our healthcare professionals, but a system which is not allowing them to flourish.
The main aim of the healthcare professionals in any hospital is to provide the best care possible for their patients. However on the contrary, the Chief Executive at the Royal College of Nursing has said she has heard from frontline nurses saying they were told to discharge their patients before they were fit, just to free up beds. This leads to quality of care concerns for every nurse and healthcare professional, trying to their best to do good in an overrun system. There have also been urgent appeals for investments to help ‘over-full hospitals with too few qualified staff’ by the Royal College of Physicians.
What is truly daunting, as that there are lives at risk. Each patient has a life and hopefully a family to go back to after their hospital treatment, and the prospect of not returning children home to mothers or husbands home to wives when more could have been done is an awful one. Alongside these frank issues within hospitals themselves, there are problems with discharging patients as due to difficulties with placing people in social care.
What should be done?
It is evident that immediate and long term measures are both needed to address the current and inevitable issues within hospitals and the NHS, and it is a system that needs saving. A crisis in funding has led to inadequate care for some patients, and everyone deserves the best treatment possible – the principles of the NHS is that it is a national health service, open to everyone. When we can not provide the care needed, we are failing as that service.
Having said that, things are looking up. The issues within the NHS are not solely down to funding, there are not enough healthcare professionals themselves to treat the patients. Since last year, 3100 more nurses and 1600 more doctors are working within the NHS, and £10 billion has been pledged to investment in the transformation of NHS services and relieving the press of hospitals.
I think the NHS is an amazing system, providing amazing treatment to everyone throughout our country. Without it, there would be far more deaths per year, and the poorer members of our country would not be able to maintain their health, or get treatment. However, it is evident that it needs reforming, reorganising and needs to remember that the heart of the organisation is the patients themselves. Patient care is the priority of each healthcare professional, doctor, nurse or midwife and it should be the heart of the system they work in. The first part of the change however is accepting it needs to happen, and I am hopeful that the changes in the future will create a much more beneficial and fluent system.