Dr John Smith: Decline of the NHS makes me angry

The decline of the NHS is making Dr John angry
The decline of the NHS is making Dr John angry

I am angry and I don’t do anger, and accompanying that anger is a sense of upset and sadness.

And why? Because it is all so obvious and has been for many years.

We are healthier and because we are healthier we are living longer.

Combine that with our ability to give more effective treatments for the big killers – heart and lung disease, and cancer.

It is good news with a big “but”.

Many of us are survivors but as time moves on we are much more likely to have complex medical problems.

They require time to sort out and need complex medical treatments.

To put it simply, as we grow older we rarely have only one thing wrong with us.

For doctors, therapists and nurses it is challenging to say the least, and challenging for us, the patients.

Add to this the massive social changes of the past 30 or so years.

Families move away and are less likely to be around to support and many of us live alone with no built-in carer. No wonder the NHS is at breaking point.

No surprise it is difficult to get an appointment to see a doctor and it is not rocket science to see why people will go direct to A&E.

Long trolley waits become the norm, cancelled operation lists are seen as inevitable and patients are called bed blockers. What a terrible word that is.

Why are beds blocked? Because we do not have enough.

In 2000 we had 4.1 hospital beds per 1,000 population. It is now down to three, the second lowest figure in Europe. Germany has 8.3!

The NHS argues we are providing more care in the community. Why then have the number of district nurses been almost halved in a decade?

To add to our problems locally we have a massive expansion of housing with the resultant increase in population.

No problem, say our planners, we will build new medical centres. Fine, but will we have more nurses and doctors to staff them? And will we have more hospital beds?

No wonder I am angry. I suspect you may be too.