The NHS - Chto delat'?*

Women and newborn babies dying during or soon after childbirth; elderly people left lying in corridors; cancer patients denied potentially life-saving medicines; endless cases of negligence and abuse.  This is the modern-day NHS.  Alas, a far cry from the dream system envisioned on its creation in 1948, following the 1942 Beveridge Report.

With the system's inadequacies continually reported in the press, and an 80% rise in claims for medical negligence in the past 6 years, we can be forgiven for thinking the NHS is past saving.  But as 65% of us believe the NHS is wasting money, maybe there is a chance to save this ailing body.  There was a TV programme a while ago which attempted to apply business principles in some hospital trusts, and found that extensive wastage and inefficiency was rife.  Perhaps by simply addressing these kind of issues, the whole system could be saved?

Me with a non-NHS product!
As a family that avoids medical types and products as much as possible, we have thankfully not had many dealings with the inefficient, underfunded and failing NHS.  Lara has been to the doctor once (over-anxious new parents taking her for her apparently essential 6 week check) and the health visitor five or six times; she is nearly four years old.  Sophia has never been to the doctor, and saw a health visitor twice; she is two years old.  We must be saving them a fortune!

As for myself, I haven't been near a GP in years, had no midwife or medical contact during the most recent pregnancy, but did unfortunately end up transferring to hospital after Tatiana's unassisted birth due to a post-partum haemorrhage.  When I read articles such as this, I am even more keen to keep well away from it all!

BUT, when it is necessary, for emergencies and abnormal situations - broken bones, serious illness etc - the NHS is without parallel.  Yes, it may be rather dismal and down at heel, but the service is still there when we all need it.  My mum had cancer, the NHS did its job; my friend's baby was seriously ill, the NHS helped her get better; my grandmother died in the Special Care Unit, after extensive and generous care from dedicated professionals.

Unfortunately, these positive experiences can be weighed up against any number of negative experiences, and those are of course the ones that make the news.  Instead of totting up a possible bill of £22.7 billion in expected payouts for cases of negligence this year, perhaps the NHS could bust its behind to re-train doctors and nurses who need it - the 'bedside manner' of the doctor I saw in hospital was appalling, and her actions also caused significant unnecessary physical pain.  The knowledge of many GPs is appalling, did you see the TV personality Dr Christian Jessen pontificating completely incorrectly this week that breastmilk has no immune-boosting benefit beyond six months - shocking!  I won't even go into the rubbish I have heard both first and secondhand from doctors, nurses, health visitors and midwives.  Suffice to say, their education and training ain't what it should be!

Of course, at the end of the day it all comes down to money, but nothing that couldn't be helped by some wage freezes and even reductions (at the top not the bottom natch); some serious work on making the system more efficient; and a ruling that all publicly-trained doctors have to commit to working in the public system, no private work allowed, for double their length of training (controversial!).  Maybe then we could move towards a system which worked for all of us, as and when we needed it.

Although I have to say, this would also be helped by the general public only going to the nurse/GP/A&E when they really need it, not for every cough, cold and twitch, as many unfortunately do now.  A healthy diet, decent amount of exercise, supply of vitamins and good natural remedies, goes an awfully long way to helping avoid the GP, believe me!  And if only people would stay at home when they are sick!!  We are currently in the throes of the Norovirus because the girls' immunity had been compromised by a cold, then they were exposed to sickness via other children at toddler group.  Three people have asked if we have taken them to the GP - why?!  What would he do?  All they need is to stay at home, rest, have lots of cuddles, and keep their fluids up.  Oh and Dr Christian, the breastmilk is currently helping all three of them fight it off, do your research love!

* Chto delat'? = "What is to be done?", Nikolai Chernyshevsky, 1863


  1. Despite 7 years of working in the NHS, or maybe because of those years, I have had many bitter complaints about the NHS in my time but they were beyond reproach in my mind end of life care. One thing I think the NHS could do to reduce nonsense patients is to send everyone a non-bill: if you were paying for your recent medical treatment, this would have been your final bill. I think of people realised that'free' wasn't really free they would think twice.

    1. Brilliant idea! Hopefully that would have an impact on the people who are there every week for their splinters and sneezes!


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