06 June 2007

NHS "On Its Knees"

A year ago Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt staked her job on wiping out the NHS debt. Apparently the Government is to announce today that she has succeeded, but at what cost?

  • Deficits of £1,300,000,000 run up by a third of hospitals and primary care trusts hidden by making cuts and taking money from elsewhere.
  • The recent loss of 22,300 health jobs
  • Almost three-quarters of newly-qualified nurses unable to secure jobs
  • The complete failure of the new online job application system for junior doctors, the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS).
  • A reduction of 9,000 beds in hospitals.
  • A record number of injuries and deaths in maternity care.
  • A steep rise in hospital infections.
  • Two-thirds of dentists turning away patients as two million patients are now without access to an NHS dentist.
Patricia "the NHS has just had its best year ever" Hewitt may be right that 90% of patients are happy with the service they receive from NHS staff. However, that does not mean that 90% of patients — let alone 90% of NHS staff, or even 90% of the general public — are happy with their local accident and emergency departments, community hospitals, and maternity units being forced to close. No wonder the leader of Britain's 33,000 hospital consultants is claiming the NHS is "on its knees" and warning that only if doctors are given the authority to organise a recovery will the NHS be saved from its current crisis.


Lucy M said...

Sick people need more than just procedures, they need a kind word from a friendly nurse and patient reassurance from a caring doctor. But medical professionals are only human and we all drop the niceties when we're under unreasonable pressure.
Yes, we should all be thankful that we live in a country where an amazing range of life-saving and life-enhancing treatment is free at the point of use, but that doesn't mean its okay when nobody answers the emergency buzzer, when the shower is permanently covered in somebody else's blood, when time is so short, morale is so low and staff are so stressed that "care" ranges from rude to sadistic.
90% satisfaction? All I can say is that Labour's greatest achievement has been how far it has managed to lower our expectations.