As registrar at the accident and emergency (A&E) department of the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, in the East End, Dr Simon Eccles is "about as front line as it gets". And like most of his colleagues he loves his job. But he is only too aware of its drawbacks.
"What I find, along with virtually every other doctor I know, is that we are so frustrated with not being able to get on with doing the job."
Shortages of both staff and beds are a daily problem that lead to patients waiting for hours for treatment – only to be taken care of by a doctor squatting down in the corridor. "It's horrendous," Dr Eccles says, "and it's very demoralising."
He does not believe that enough is being done to ease the problems caused by a lack of capacity in the system. "Spending on health has gone up by several billion every year. I haven't seen it. There has been no change in staffing levels, no change in the number of beds available and no change to the frustration."
He advocates new buildings, more consultants, more nurses and a system that allows more patient self-determination to free up hospital staff, along the lines of the French system.
As for the Chancellor's pre-Budget commitment to more money for the service, Dr Eccles says: "Spread it across all the trusts in the country and it doesn't amount to much."
He can see a time when patients might have to pay for elements of their healthcare. "I don't know if it can go on the way it is for ever. I love the NHS, but it isn't working."Reuse content