The situation of the junior doctors who have been forced to strike over the government’s proposed adjustment of their working hours and pay and conditions serves to highlight yet again what seems to be an inexorable dismantling of the healthcare system we have enjoyed until now. It is little wonder that recruitment to the medical profession is proving troublesome, when potential medics see that a brand new MP (say) with no training whatsoever can earn more than three times the salary of a brand new doctor after seven years or more hard study.
We have been blessed for so long with a world beating health service, so it is doubly heart breaking to see where it seems to be heading. The common perception is that if you are really very seriously ill the NHS still delivers; let us fervently hope that that is and continues to be the case. But at every other level the evidence is overwhelming that there are mammoth cracks in the system. GPs are stretched to the limit and have to deal with the increasing frustration of patients who have been used to seeing them with a few days until recently and now have to wait weeks. Outpatient appointments are similarly extending to an ever receding point in the future.
And the inefficiencies proliferate, it seems. A patient with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome was recently informed by his specialist that he needed an arm splint, which until recently he would have gone to a cupboard and fitted for him on the spot. The patient now had to wait six weeks to visit ‘Orthotics’ where he was measured around wrist and palm (taking a minute at most) and told when the appropriate splint arrived ‘in a few weeks’ he would be notified. Both specialist and orthotics nurse were unable to understand why this new system had been introduced to frustrate them and patients alike. Presumably someone in an office somewhere needed to tick some health and safety or storage efficiency box.
And we can all protest until we become apoplectic and rushed off to a distant A & E but nothing seems to change. Aren’t the people who make the bureaucratic decisions robots who are ever unwell themselves? If they were they wouldn’t make our GPs spend more time doing admin work than with patients, surely. And they might just listen to the medical profession and patients’ many and serious concerns.