I recently used the NHS at my GP surgery and at A&E. Using these free of charge services (I do pay NI contributions) reminded me of the value of one of our British institutions and the number of people who are involved in providing this service.
To cut a long story short, after a 24 hour blood pressure monitor check and an ECG I was informed by the GP to head towards A&E as I had a suspected ‘coronary artery spasm’ and should request a Troponin test. A little startled by this information, and after gathering my thoughts I went to Southampton General hospital A&E.
I provided my personal details at reception and was guided to the initial assessment room. It was eerily quiet, I was introduced to a nurse who used a calm manner to explain the different stages of process. After initial tests, I was then moved to what I call ‘the A&E ward’. This area of the wing was busier, there were staff in different coloured uniform (to visibly show different roles within this jigsaw) and staff were around a circle shaped reception. This hub was allocating beds, monitoring diagnosis and was the nerve centre of the place.
I felt terribly guilty as I could hear and see patients who were feeling pain. To witness how patients felt vulnerable was an eye opening experience, we were trusting qualified strangers with our lives. Prior to this experience I had no concept as to the caring and gentle side of the NHS, to hear health care professionals calmly speak to patients to ascertain if there are family or friends with support mechanisms in place to enable on going/out of hospital care. This is when I realised the number of patients who are elderly and of those a high number had no ‘out of hospital’ support system. What’s the relevance? If these patients have no support system, the NHS professionals need to implement a plan of NHS funded support and resource. What does this look like? Where does this come from? How do you convince an elderly and vulnerable person this is the right approach for them? Is NHS support available within a short time frame? These questions are valid, the last for me is pertinent.
How does the system support the most needy in a way to give them the appropriate care they require, in an environment suitable for them to prevent them from waiting in A&E and prolonging their uncertainty.
It was remarkably clear to see the absolute need to redesign the NHS care system to include ‘out of hospital’ care be this through home visits or care homes that can aid recovery. Society (media, government, NHS and the statisticians) is constantly reminding us we are an ageing population. A population that requires out of hospital care delivered by care workers who are not time pressured by their private employers. Government and the opposition need to re-think and actively plan for the current status and the future. By not taking this bold step, this wonderful and world respected NHS will break. Not because of the dedicated and loyal people who work within it but because they are expected (by policy makers) to deliver more than their role. Why is the funding invested in the NHS not filtering to then? Do we need to question how the funding is channelled?
During my A&E visit I was seen by five medical professionals who all had a role to ensure my health issues were diagnosed and treated. These people meet with ‘all walks of life’ and yet do not judge or discriminate. They deliver their roles with exceptional care and compassion. My four hour visit gave first hand experience as to the support they need and should receive. Without these dedicated individuals who cope with added pressures, the nation would fall apart. It is time to raise awareness of the situation and for policy makers to proactively act to support them.