We all love the idea of the NHS. Every man, woman and child was outraged at the very idea that Trump could strike a trade deal to include the NHS. It’s an institution of which we are rightly proud and which we want to see thrive as a pillar of what makes Britain Great. But love alone is not enough for a successful long-term relationship, and the right for people injured through neglect to receive full redress must be protected.
But we all know that prevention is better than cure. The Royal College of Nursing claims there are 40,000 nursing vacancies and that this is risking the safety of the people in its care. In a nutshell, while the number of nurses is increasing, that increase lags way behind the increase in patient numbers through hospital admissions. The RCN has launched its People’s People campaign to secure public support for its campaign.
Earlier in the year the King’s Fund identified various indicators of a health service in crisis, related largely to staffing levels: 100,000 vacancies, high stress levels, high turnover of staff. In its 2018-19 winter report the British Medical Association described the cold months as the ‘worst winter on record for the NHS’, not least due to the pressures on staff.
Haven’t we all had enough of the piecemeal approach to dealing with the NHS crisis? A situation where nurses are calling for people to fight for them, while APIL is calling for people to support full redress for patients injured needlessly, demands a far-reaching and joined-up approach by Government.
There’s an election on the way. Can we hope for some clear joined-up thinking on this issue from the parties? Will we see a stand-out party brave and bold enough to recognise the responsibility of the state to protect patients and rise to the challenge of addressing shortfalls in the health service rather than pitting one against the other?
Looks to me that the solution to all this is simple, even though its delivery may not be so simple: fixing the resources problem would be a starting point for a really sensible cross-Government strategy which might make a real difference.
I end with a quote from our very own president, Gordon Dalyell, “Every penny spent on clinical negligence claims could and should be avoided, because those injuries and deaths should never have happened in the first place.”