For those who would criticise the NHS I have two words; Breaking Bad!
The NHS is not perfect, few things in life are, but I do find myself dismayed when people complain about the wait to see a specialist for routine problems, or that certain things are not available without charge, such as cosmetic procedures, or letters for charity sky dives.
The NHS cares for people’s health from cradle to grave, and is free at point of contact, and I am hugely proud to work for it, and it frustrates me to hear people complain, rather than appreciate, how unique and amazing the system is. No matter what your background, employment, financial situation, you will be cared for if you need healthcare. Sometimes that care is not as good as it should be, and I am as disappointed as anyone when I hear of situations such as the poor care given at Mid Staffs Trust last year, but the NHS principle is sound, and fair to all. It was when I started watching Breaking Bad recently that it seemed to hit home particularly hard how well our welfare state works! The concept of this American drama is brilliant, (middle-of-the-road chemistry teacher Walt White has cancer, but no medical insurance to pay for treatment, so starts ‘cooking’ crystal meth to earn cash fast, with all it’s attendant adventures!) and it is completely addictive to watch, but when you hear “$13000 and counting” from Walt’s wife, the cost of a 3 day stay in a US hospital, and therefore the drive for Walt to ‘cook’ even more, that is when you really appreciate what many of us take for granted!
NHS resources are limited, and if we are to continue to care for all who need healthcare, we need to use what we have judiciously.
You may have to wait to see a specialist for a routine problem, but when you do see them they will be highly trained, closely monitored under national regulations, and working in healthcare for the love of it, not for the money!
So perhaps ponder this;
Every time we ‘pop into’ A&E instead of using a more appropriate source of care, we cost the NHS extra money.
Unnecessary visits to a GP for colds, and viruses, or missed appointments without cancelling, they all cost the NHS money.
Writing non NHS letters, such as for travelling/ insurance/ working for charities etc, take GP time away from seeing patients, and are therefore subject to a charge at the practice’s discretion (although NHS GPs don’t have to do them at all). So we really appreciate it when people recognise that this is an additional service, and don’t complain about a cost.
With a new Chief Exec of the NHS arriving soon, a man who supports the introduction of private providers into healthcare, we need to be very careful as a nation not to lose sight of our fantastic, value for money, socially responsible NHS, and to appreciate its principles. I hope our new CE, Simon Stevens, arriving soon from the USA, has watched Breaking Bad and taken note!