Come together for the sake of NHS

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

We are lucky, very lucky in this country; when you get ill you do not need to have a credit card strapped to your chest to receive help; the NHS is there when you need it, regardless of your financial circumstances.

When your child has flu, the GP will see you now, when your partner needs an operation, the consultant will remove the tumour and when mum requires specialist care, the nurse will provide it.

At least this is how it is supposed to work but increasingly it doesn’t and this has prompted a volley of warnings from numerous bodies from across the political spectrum.

These days operations are routinely cancelled because of a lack of beds, you can wait up to two weeks just to see a doctor (note, “a doctor,” not “your doctor”) and social care has become a lottery now, with many not even qualifying for it under new guidelines.

The Red Cross have called it a humanitarian disaster, which may be a bit strong, but when so many voices are calling for urgent action, it would surely be stupid not to take heed.

Social services directors, nurses, GP leaders and charities were amongst those who signed an open to the Prime Minister calling for a bold approach rather than a ducking of the huge issues; they argue that without fundamental action, millions of older, ill and disabled people will -- in their words -- “continue to be badly let down”.

You only need to watch the programme, “Hospital” on BBC2, which goes behind the scenes at five London hospitals, to see the true picture of an NHS at breaking point.

Many staff are being put under extreme pressure to make life and death decisions, while juggling beds, in full to brimming hospitals, as consultants spend all day hanging around, begging to be allowed to do their job.

People who are ill are being sent home instead of being treated because people who are more ill take precedence; surely this wasn’t what Bevan intended.

The problem is complex; we have more people needing more treatment, whilst at the same time cutbacks in social care are adding to the pressure on GPs and hospitals.

Peterborough City Hospital already faces intense pressure on its services due to the weight of its PFI finance deal and now, thanks to a recent business rate revue, things are set to get worse, with another £1.2m to find, you can expect further cuts in services.

But when did a hospital become a business? Shouldn’t they be treated the same as charities and allowed to spend that money on beds, nurses and doctors?

Many argue that more funding will solve all the NHS’s ills, but I am not sure that just throwing cash at the problem will be the panacea that we all crave.

The landscape has changed so much since the inception of the NHS in 1948 that I think a bold, new approach is needed, before a creaking system finally breaks.

So, I don’t care whether you are blue, red, yellow, green or purple, whatever your political leanings, stop your bickering and points scoring and come together for the sake of our NHS 
now.

The staff and the patients deserve it.