Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 15:45
Hello again. As you may have heard the NHS is 70 years old in July. When the service was started in 1948 by Aneurin Bevan I don’t think anyone could have envisaged the service developing into what we have today. Some of the forerunners of the NHS were the local schemes in the mining valleys of South Wales that Mr Bevan was familiar with. These were essentially local subscription schemes where mining families became members of the scheme which employed a doctor to provide essential medical services to the members, this, at a time when all health care was what we would now term private, allowed poor working class people to access health care. That simple model expanded into the National Health Service which has always had as its central tenant that it should be free at the point of use. The NHS now provides a breadth of services that is mind boggling, it encompasses preventative medicine, complex cancer care, cutting edge surgery, outstanding intensive care units, up to date imaging, fertility treatments, world renowned primary care services and even provides support and treatment to the transgender community which would not even have been considered in 1948. I don’t think there is a family in the land who hasn’t at some time had reason to thank the NHS for its help, and for all its faults I think we are lucky to have such a service in our country. John Webster, the Accountable Officer for West Norfolk CCG, and I will have the honour of representing West Norfolk CCG in July at a thanksgiving service for the NHS at Westminster Abbey. I am sure that, despite its faults, we are all grateful the NHS was started in that revolutionary post war period.
Thankfully the summer is upon us and we seem to have just about weathered the storm that was winter in the NHS in the 21st Century. During the last few months Queen Elizabeth Hospital was under tremendous pressure due to the demand for beds outstripping the supply. It has meant that a signficant amount of routine surgery has been cancelled in 2018 and the waiting time for surgery has increased. The recommended bed occupancy that a hospital should aim for is around 92%, in Queen Elizabeth in the last few months it has been 103% so t is little wonder they have had problems. The local health system has missed targets for the 4 hour A&E waiting time consistently and also now the 62 day target for treatment to start after referral from the GP is also being missed. There is a tremendous amount of work being done by the CCG, the QEH and the regional NHS team to design changes in systems to try to prevent a similar outcome in the future.
How can you help? Well, as we have said before, by using the services wisely and appropriately. We want people to get their help from the right person in the right setting. In most minor illnesses that is from a pharmacist, if you are unsure 111 can help sign post you. In GP surgeries there are a variety of professionals with different skills apart from the doctor, you may be directed to an emergency care practitioner or a nurse practitioner as well as the traditional GP. In order to ensure you see the appropriate person the receptionist may ask you some questions about your problem; they are not being nosey they are simply trying to ensure you speak to the right person for both you and the service as this is the best way of making it easier for all of us to see a doctor when we really need to. Finally, remember A&E is there for accidents and emergencies; the clue is in the name. It isn’t a way to see the doctor without having taken the trouble to make an appointment.