Monday, December 11, 2006

Chapter 22 - The Future of the NHS

This is a summary of chapter 22 - what do patients want? It was written by Claire Rayner, president of The Patients Association and is the UK’s best known agony aunt. She has a long and successful career as a journalist, broadcaster and writer, but began her working life as a nurse at the Royal Northern Hospital in London.

Claire Rayner makes several strong points in this chapter, which include:

1) We Want to Know the People Who Treat Us:
Patients understandably want to get to know the professionals who are treating them, yet she has found the number of strange faces bewildering. Strangers who know little about you or even why you are there, make patients feel not only lonely but alienated.

2) We Want to Feel Safe
Hospitals now seem a byword for dirt, disorder and hospital acquired infections with horrid accounts of MRSA. Thatcherite thinking to save money was to employ contract cleaning firms; but it seems to have left hospitals disgustingly dirty. The contract company’s employees tend to lack any real incentive to do a good job and they are rarely paid enough for the effort demanded of them.

3) We Want Reliable Day and Home Care
Whatever happened to the idea of convalescence? Now the aim seems to be to get patients out of hospital as quickly as possible, else fear being a ‘Bed Blockers’ - an unpleasant, indeed insultingly, label given by management. To be able to afford care home placements many elderly people have to sell the home, to provide what NHS gurus call Social Care yet many others regard as basic nursing care.

4) We Want the NHS to Continue to Exist
For all its current problems and occasional disasters there is no doubt in my mind that the majority of the people in this country value the NHS highly, and would be deeply dismayed if the current obsession to reduce its costs, takes us back to the bad old days pre 1948.

5) Will the NHS collapse in the future?
I have to say that I very much fear it will. We now have not a National Health Service but a series of Local Health Services, a net that has many large holes through which patients fall with distressing frequency. Add to that the cost debts and the future of the NHS is very bleak indeed. Hence, my fears our descendants be pushed back into the past, to die not only unhonoured and unsung, but uncared for.
To comment on her hard hitting chapter, please comment here or add a comment on

1 comment:

Treehouse Surfer said...

Really good chapter.