Read any of the national and local papers and somewhere in it will be an article about the failings of a NHS hospital. Whilst any failure to care is one failure too many, let's not forget that every day, tens of thousands of people receive successful treatment.
Rarely do the papers or broadcasters mention these patients. Yes there are a lot of people who receive excellent care and many caring staff- staff who are often frustrated by rules when trying to do their job.
What is it like at the sharp end? Well over the past few years I have been a regular patient at several different hospitals and seen many doctors. To me the NHS is a gem, something to be proud of. I know that if I had to have private healthcare, most of my treatment would not have gone ahead due to high costs and the rarity of my illness. I need the NHS specialist treatment centres.
But I have also experienced some of the NHS's failings, I was in hospital for three days partially over a weekend and had no food or water or medication for the first 12 hours and had to keep buzzing for help because of wound problems. I never saw a nurse unless I rang for her. On this ward at weekends all the staff, except one, is agency.
They didn't know where things were, did not like to disturb doctors to get medication prescribed and most worryingly, asked me what checks they should do for a chest drain! Remember, I am the patient! The agency staff were totally out of their depth.
So NHS trusts are paying premium rates to agencies for weekend staff. These staff are qualified: yes, experienced: possibly, up to date on training: not always, understanding of the hospital trust: no. The paper work is unfamiliar and often not completed. This results in the regular staff having incomplete records, disposing missed medication and frustrated patients. Does it have to be this way? No.
In some hospitals and I have been a patient in one, they still run a bank scheme consisting of nurses who want to work extra hours/work regularly at the same hospital and on the same wards. They have access to training and are familiarised with the hospital and its policies and procedures. This may be old fashioned but it works.
What is wrong with the NHS? Well management, procurement, administration and the patients. Yes, you read right, the patients. How much time and effort is wasted when patients don't turn up? Or do not return equipment loaned to them? Or the medication prescribed is not taken or over ordered? This cost us, the taxpayer, millions of pounds each year.
We can all do our bit to care about the NHS, be proud of the NHS and most of all treasure the NHS. If we become a private healthcare system then I believe that the standard operations and illnesses, the bread and butter jobs will be fine as they are cost effective but the rare, unusual or the limited life improving benefits will go and only if you have the money will you be able to have the treatment.
Don't let the health of our people be dictated by spread sheet and numbers. With careful management the NHS can work. It can never be that everyone can have every treatment or aid that is available. Money only goes so far. However the NHS priority can be patient centred focused with careful sensible budgeting. In these financially trying times let the hospitals use local businesses and offer additional services to earn money in a way to get the best deal possible. If the NHS goes we can never go back. #Medicine