Monday, 18 August 2008

I'm Worried About My Health, And That Of The NHS

Speaking as a patient, I am very worried about the NHS and its future. When I started to read blogs a few months ago, many of those that I started to read regularly were written by doctors and medical students. You may wonder why I was drawn to these blogs in particular, and I suppose the answer would be that many of those written by the doctors are very thought provoking and often allow you an insight into how the NHS works, while those of the medical students are often full of humour, something that we particularly associate with them as a group.

There is another reason why I read these blogs; I'm worried about my health. I don't expect to get a diagnosis from these blogs, I go to see my GP for that, but what I can get is opinion about what is happening in the NHS from one of the groups that has a vested interest in it. As a patient, I am a member of the other group that has a vested interest in the NHS, and it is for that reason that I believe it is every patient's duty to take note of what this government is trying to impose upon us.

The British tax-payer is entitled to get value for money from the things that their taxes are used to fund, they also have the right for politicians to be accountable to the public, after all they are employed by us to do a job, and at the moment they are not doing it very well. If I had performed at work in the way that they have, I would undoubtedly have been given a series of warnings, first verbal, and then in writing; I may even have found my employment terminated by now. Unfortunately, it is not quite so easy to get rid of a government. Gordon Brown has been served a number of warnings from the British public already. The local elections a few months ago sent the message loud and clear, and it has been re-echoed at the by-elections that have been held subsequently. But Mr Brown is determined to go from office having caused as much damage as possible, so that whoever follows has a very hard time putting things right. While he was Chancellor of the Exchequer he was constantly telling us what a good job he was doing with the economy. He was very careful to avoid mentioning that it was the Conservatives who put the economy into a strong position. Since he has become Prime Minister, it has become obvious that he certainly did not do a good job with our economy; we have learnt that that the poor position that we find ourselves in today is in part a result of the way in which Gordon Brown did things at the Treasury, and who he listened to.

Patient participation is not something that should just be talked about; it is something that we should all try to do to ensure that there is an NHS there for us when we are most likely to need it, when we are old and more likely to suffer ill health. This government has a very strong record in tinkering in things that should not be tinkered with, and the results are always bad.

Yes, they may have managed to reduce waiting lists by putting in more money. But huge sums of money have been, and are still being. ploughed into computer systems, that are so complex that they are proving impossible to implement or operate effectively and efficiently. There are also serious concerns about the security of information stored on such computer systems, and yet the government pushes on with their introduction.

Having negotiated a new contract with the GPs in this country, to the satisfaction of both the government and the doctors, the government has now decided that it got things wrong. But instead of biting the bullet and admitting their mistake, the decision seems to have been taken to get back at the GPs by doing everything possible to destroy the wonderful relationship that exists between GPs and their patients. And how are they doing this? By forcing the introduction of polyclinics and health centres, by putting the running of these out to tender, and in some areas, refusing local GPs the right to tender for these contracts. Some GP surgeries are going to be forced to close when these new centres are opened. People will have to travel further to see a doctor, and it almost certainly won't be the same doctor each time that they have to see someone. And why are we being forced down this route? Because the government have decided that they want GPs to open for longer hours to suit a few people who find current practice hours unsuitable. The problem is that this group of people probably need to see a doctor very rarely, so we have the ridiculous idea of rules being set to benefit a very small minority at the expense of the vast majority.

The government is definitely trying to privatise significant parts of the NHS, and this is something that we should not allow. I have said before that the NHS is not a business, and should not be run as such. It is a public service that is there to serve the whole population, no matter their ability to pay for treatment. Primary care should be firmly rooted in the community, and local GP surgeries do exactly that. It takes me a couple of minutes to walk to my local surgery, I am sure that should a polyclinic be introduced into my area of London, then I would have to travel significantly further.

I am asking patients to do their duty. If you want the NHS to continue as a service that serves you and not some far off shareholders, then you should participate in the NHS. Go to your local surgery and see if there are ways that you can join in with patient participation, and let us show the government that they cannot ride roughshod over us.

1 comment:

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Hello, and thanks for the links you've been sending my way! This is an excellent post, I couldn't agree more, BG