#NHS70

BY ANASTASIA CHOO

As the NHS approaches its 70th Anniversary, I thought it appropriate to hear from NHS employees with their thoughts on the NHS. As one would expect there are both fans and detractors. Here are the comments of NHS staff below:

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‘It was a privilege to work for the NHS and if I had my time again, I would still choose to work for the NHS’ says Nurse Cathy Smith.

Retired Nurse Cathy Smith recently celebrated her 70th Birthday and as the NHS approaches its 70th Anniversary, I thought it appropriate to hear the thoughts of an experienced clinician who has devoted all her working life to the NHS on the front line of Primary Care.  Cathy feels that reform is needed and the public needs to take responsibility and not abuse the NHS.

Here are snippets from the recorded interview.

Kaka Lui, Senior Information Manager, from NHS England Data and Information, wrote the following:

“Although I am not clinical staff, I love the idea of a National Health Service, no matter how poor or rich you are, you will receive the same treatment, staff are willing to help in every way that they can. Compared to seventy years ago, the needs of the community has changed and the NHS needs to fine tune its services to be more effective and efficient and society needs to learn how to use these services the right way.”

David Vedi, Procurement Manager, Surrey:

Having worked in the private sector since the early 1960’s I am saddened by the waste that I see, which seems all-pervasive across the NHS but particularly across NHS procurement. The operation I was contracted to until recently is responsible for buying all the day-to-day items for a large geographic area in the south of England. I see young people getting recruited to negotiate acquisitions worth hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ money and celebrating getting a 1% discount. In the private sector these kinds of discounts put people out of business. The NHS, like any public body, is rubbish at getting deals.

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Mr. (Dr.) Arun K. Majumder MBBS, FRCS. (ret).

“Though now a retired vascular and trauma surgeon, and general practitioner, including minor ops and radiology, and in the context of my Indian, US and UK medical career, my experiences in the NHS are that it provides a good all-round service in most parts of the country.

Much of this is based on good education and training and good training from seniors on the job, in medical treatment as well as social dispensation, from cradle to pre-funeral.  The NHS medical staff achieve this despite inadequate financing and structuring by government which has also created a lack of the right personnel for the pressure points, in not having enough of both doctors and nurses specifically, and sometimes far too many non-medical administrators and non-medical executives.

The holy grail is that all services are free at the point of delivery. This must be protected.

Yet the Govt now spends only around 3% of GDP from tax collected. And has been threatening this holy grail year-on-year with this under investment, creating a worsening of the too-little-too late risk factor. Governments have continued to compromise the NHS, and yet medical staff continue to deliver good service, but are disabled in being able to offer great, more widely, or consistently enough. And now even ‘good’ is at huge risk. The Private model is not the answer. I know from that in America.

The UK NHS must be defended and protected, for the country and every one of us who will likely become a patient one day and be at the mercy of this most treasured asset, but also linchpin of UK society.

‘Happy’ 70th birthday dearest NHS, but I wish to be more confident in knowing it will have many more to come.”

Sam Dooley, Nurse at Plymouth Hospital:

“I love some aspects of the NHS but witness its faults first hand every day at work. I have worked across 3 hospitals in my working life as a nurse and see major issues with recruitment, management and waste. The thing is there is no better alternative right now than having an NHS. Other countries like Singapore and New Zealand have better hospitals but it’s horses for courses. The UK is a different horse. What we need is a big rethink as technology changes. More patients being treated remotely at home, more focus on A&E and intensive care, better equipment and, I think, we should start charging at the door of GPs’ surgeries where most the waste happens. As for the organisations that the NHS pays for to attack what it is doing – the NHS advocacy groups – they are leeches and ought to be put out of business immediately. There are too many troughers in the NHS and they ought to be prosecuted for theft and barred from ever receiving public monies in the future.”

Dr Mark Penwill MB BS MRCGP

“Overall I would say that I am very proud of the NHS and particularly the commitment to provide care on the basis of need rather than ability to pay. However I am left frustrated by the politically driven repeated reorganisations of the NHS which have wasted vast amounts of money which could have been reinvested in frontline care. Additionally, general practice is at the very heart of general practice with the vast majority of patient contacts taking place in primary care. There has been a vast change in the 26 years I have been a GP where most of what I used to do is now done by nurses, pharmacists and health care assistants while most of the care I provide personally would previously done in secondary care. This is good news for the patients but means that consultations are longer and more complex. Unfortunately, despite the significant shift of work to primary care, this has not been resourced with a significant reduction in the proportion of the NHS budget allocated to primary care.

For the NHS to survive, and prosper going forward there are going to need to be changes. The current model is unsustainable and currently low morale and a feeling of not being valued and adequately resourced is leading to a mass exodus of clinical staff.

Personally, I feel that the NHS needs to be divorced from party politics to reduce the short term fixes and reorganisations and work towards a coherent long term plan with an adequately resourced primary at it’s heart. There needs to be greater integration between primary and secondary care with more joined up services (policies in the last 2 decades have led to breaking up of services and much less contact between primary and secondary clinicians)

There also needs to be a national debate about what the NHS is for. We cannot afford to pay for everything and tough decisions need to be made on what is and importantly what is not available on the NHS. This needs to be a national rather than local decision so there is no post code lottery for services.

On a more positive note, I have been privileged to work with the most exceptional people in the NHS from my partners, to my clinical and non – clinical staff as well as my local primary and secondary care colleagues. They give me hope for the future that the NHS will during and flourish.”

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