This article, by retired teacher Jan Dodds, is part of a series of reader submissions about the state of the NHS.
Over the past three years I’ve had an inordinate amount of time to witness the workings of the NHS at an almost molecular level. In this time, my mother-in-law had a stroke, which left her aphasic and hemiplegic. My mother had a pelvic sarcoma, sadly terminal. And on top of this, my daughter has had a chronic hip/spinal condition for 20 years, for which we are still trying to get a definitive diagnosis.
Without the NHS we would have quite simply not been able to cope, especially on a financial level. The staff we have interacted with have been, with very few exceptions, totally amazing, hard working and dedicated.
The "systems" on the other hand have been convoluted and utterly frustrating. I understand the need for transparency and accountability, but does every contact need for it to be recorded again and again, ad nauseum?
It is the "systems" which need streamlining: not the whole NHS . I can’t help thinking that a few less bureaucrats and a lot more people on the frontline actually helping patients would improve the situation.
To give you an example – my mother in law had an electrical activity brain episode at the end of May & was admitted to hospital for monitoring/treatment. Despite repeated requests for and assurances that we would be kept informed about discharge details she was sent back, late at night, to her nursing home with no notification. It has taken over five months for this to be formally investigated & reported on by the bureaucrats. All I wanted was a phone call for someone to say “we messed up, sorry and there’s an ‘inform the relatives’ box to tick on the discharge checklist now”. Five minutes, done and dusted, not five months!
We need to put an end to the outsourcing and bring it all back in house; in other words stop the privatisation! The integrity of the NHS is being shattered by the piecemeal "contracting out" of services and treatments. No wonder the left hand no longer knows what the right hand is doing. It's a prime example of the "divide and rule" Tory mantra.
To solve the NHS's problems we should:
1. Repeal the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) with immediate effect.
2. Renegotiate Privte Finance Initiatives – recoup costs and the small profit. They are obscenely expensive and hugely damaging.
3. Get rid of the NHS "marketplace". This would immediately release sufficient funds to cover the current black hole in NHS funding and more besides.
4. Centralise procurement/purchasing of basic supplies and equipment.
5. An IT system that actually works so 4 can be implemented!
6. There are too many "systems" – this needs streamlining as does the amount of paperwork. All hospitals & GP practices have a commonality at a basic level – there should be standardised Best Practice templates for the basic systems across the board.
7. The NHS needs to communicate, and at all levels.