I am NOT having a go at the NHS. I am a staunch supporter of the NHS, half of my family have, or do, work for the NHS.
Back in February of this year I was finally referred by my GP to see a Hospital Consultant. End of March I saw the Consultant Surgeon. Having ordered fresh X-Rays he decided that there was no option he could offer me apart from surgery, and that it was urgent. So he put me on his Urgent List, surgery within 6 weeks. Nothing Life-Threatening, but seriously affecting my quality of life.
Within days I was given dates for a 5 hour pre-op assessment and my operation, end of May. No complaints there because he was taking my pre-booked holiday into account.
The day before my op I was contacted by the hospital enquiring about my general well-being and any factors that might affect my suitability for surgery the next day. During the waiting period I had contracted a chest infection, seen my GP and been presribed antibiotics (and taken them). Sharp intake of breath and the anaesthetist decided that I could not have my op for a minimum of 4 weeks after the completion of my course of antibiotics. A pain in the derrière, but at least I could understand that part.
Simple, naive me thought that I would simply be sent a new date >4 weeks hence. Silly me.
The very next day I somehow received a letter from the bureaucrats that, as I was “unfit for surgery” I would be removed from the list until my GP declared me fit, which would be a minimum of 4 weeks. Taken off the list, the ‘clock’ effectively reset.
4 weeks on my GP bemusedly certified me fit for surgery and a quick phone call, with letter to follow, got me back on the list. Less than a week later I got a letter informing me of new date for surgery, 12th August. So my course of antibiotics had effectively delayed my surgery by 10 weeks, not just 4.
A new 5 hour pre-op assessment was called for as the revised date for surgery was >3 months after the previous assessment. Annoying but fair enough, I understood the need.
Fast Forward to 10th August when I received a phone call from the hospital. “Bad news I’m afraid, we have to cancel your op as we have no Anaesthetist that day” They hoped to be able to give me a new date later that day or the next. They haven’t managed that yet.
My gripe with this cancellation is that, unlike the previous one, there is no clinical reason for it. Jeremy Hunt has ‘Reformed’ and ‘Improved’ the NHS so that they are now required to provide a 7 day routine service and not just for Emergencies. So there will be increased resources for that then? No. A 5 day a week service now has to cover 7 days a week with no extra staff.
As I sit here and wait for new appointment when I should have been waking up after my operation it occurs to me that the Surgeon, his Registrar(s) and the Theatre Nurses were rostered to work today but can’t because there are no spare Anaeshetists to cover for the one who has presumably gone Sick. What are those highly skilled professionals doing today now? Checking paper clips and stitches ready for Monday? Who knows?
So Hunt’s ‘Reforms’ of the NHS have, totally precictably, led to a situation where when one member of the team goes down the whole thing grinds to a halt. Refusing to increase the resources means that I COULD have had surgery on a Saturday, only I can’t as the hospital has been robbed of all resilience by the ‘Reforms’.
I have said this before in relation to Police Reforms, but Reform is defined as
make changes in something, (especially an institution or practice) in order to improve it.
So where exactly are the improvements above Mr Hunt?
I know I’m biased, this is my personal experience of your Reformed NHS. Working well isn’t it?
Surgery within 6 weeks is approaching “surgery within 6 months” and as I write I still don’t have a new date but it sure as hell won’t be Monday will it?
Wherever you look in the Public Sector, the Emergency Services, the Armed Forces, they have been DESTROYED by the Conservative Party.
I hope you are proud of yourselves.