Katya Certic reports 27th April in The Guardian: Only genuine understanding from politicians can save the NHS and is supported by Ashley Kirk “Paramedics take 40,000 days off sick with stress as strain on NHS takes toll” (Still the worst organisation in the world for absenteeism)..
NHSreality understands and supports this view wholeheartedly. That’s why I chose the title for the website… And much as NHSreality appreciates it will be unpopular, overt rationing and reducing demand is better than covert rationing and the pretence that we can cover and provide for everything, for everyone, for ever.
One of my local parliamentary candidates knocked on my door recently and asked me what she could do to win my vote. This is what I told her.
My husband is a GP and I’m a paediatric registrar. The NHS is the number one issue affecting us in the coming election (and I say that as an immigrant and new mother who is in the process of buying her first home). If you want to win my vote, you need to show me that you understand our reality.
My husband is a partner in an inner city GP practice. Today, he’s duty doctor, responsible for all the acutely unwell patients who contact the surgery and need a same-day appointment. He left for work at 7.20am for an 8am start and I don’t expect him to be home before 9pm. On Monday, he worked extended hours and was seeing patients until 7.30pm. After he finishes seeing patients tomorrow evening, he’ll be catching up on the paperwork that built up during today’s on-call, which means another 8pm finish, at the earliest. He spent last Saturday doing an extra surgery too.
When we see friends leaving their partnerships because of early burnout and then hear politicians promise to increase GP recruitment by the thousands in the next five years, I can see that they don’t understand our reality. When I see a consultant cry with exhaustion after a 24-hour weekend shift and then see journalists reporting on senior doctors not working weekends, it’s clear that they don’t understand our reality.
The NHS, like every healthcare system in the world, is imperfect, but it is full of passionate, hardworking people who do their utmost every day to provide the best care possible for their patients. There’s plenty about it that could and should be improved, but the people tasked with making those improvements need to have a real understanding of how it works instead of making grand but ultimately empty promises to win votes.
So if you want to win my vote, go out and talk to the people on the frontline. Listen to their concerns and discuss your ideas with them. Show that you’re committed to learning about the issues before legislating on them. The NHS is in trouble and it needs your help, but until you understand our reality, you can’t possibly know how to save it.
Update 26th April:
Despite political inference, wasteful awareness campaigns, misleading advertisements, poor evidence, and ridiculous media stories, general practice is still the best job in the world. GPs witness the life stories of individuals and families unfolding in real time.
Often you’re a port in a storm; sometimes you offer a hand on the rudder, helping to steer the ship. You don’t perform complex surgery, and the work isn’t glamorous. But it is complex, requiring incisive intelligence—and, if you want glamour, you can wear whatever shoes you like.
Even though you may think you have little to offer, you may be surprised when, years later, your words are quoted back to you with gratitude. You may do home visits on foot in the snow and slip over, and another patient may come outside to offer you his arm…..
I have to admit that I only considered a career in general practice with reluctance. This now seems ridiculous, as embarking on GP training has been the best decision I have ever made. Throughout medical school and foundation training I was convinced that my career path lay in surgery, however, a last-minute decision, involving the consideration of lifestyle and career progression, meant that I ended up training as a radiologist. But after merely 3 months in the programme I resigned, primarily because of the lack of patient contact as well as my need to engage in meaningful relationships and daily interactions with patients and other healthcare professionals.
So, I was left with a decision. What area of medicine would allow me to fulfil this yearning for patient contact combined with my love of a clinical conundrum? There …