Dr John Smith

Dr John Smith has strong feelings about the current state of the NHS
Dr John Smith has strong feelings about the current state of the NHS

In the past few weeks I have witnessed at first hand the absolute skill and dedication that was given to a member of our extended family who was seriously injured.

Only yesterday I heard of the fantastic care given to a friend in the fracture clinic at Kettering General, a place so busy that the steam almost rises.

I worked for the NHS for my entire working life and stories make me still feel very proud.

But I hear other stories too and it is these that make me both anxious and sad because I hear them time and time again.

I hear of elderly patients, some with dementia, moving wards almost on a daily basis and sometimes up to five or six times.

I hear of elderly patients being discharged after one or two days in hospital only to be readmitted time and time again – in-out, in-out.

I hear of patients wetting themselves in bed because the buzzer is not answered.

Nurses have told me that, at times, they have not wanted to accept admissions to their wards because they have felt there were not enough staff for it to be safe, but they have had to.

I have heard the words “we need your bed” when discharges do not appear to be rated on clinical grounds.

I have heard how difficult it can be to get an appointment with your doctor, of waiting for telephone calls, of telephone advice and telephone prescribing.

It may be safe but it doesn’t always feel like that to the patient. I have been told of out-of-hours doctors travelling hundreds of miles before they come on duty, is that safe?

And if I have heard this, I suspect you have too.

The culture has changed and it changes imperceptibly without our consent. Did we ask for deputising services?

Did we ask for the massive reductions in home visits, did we ask for rapid discharge from hospital? I think not.

I know by writing this I might have offended many of my former colleagues.

I am sorry, but some of what I have told you has come from them... complaining when you work within the system is not an easy thing to do.

It is several years since I retired, I may be out of touch clinically but I am not out of touch with what is happening.

I have not provided answers, that would be presumptious but I do have thoughts and I suspect you do too.

This has been very difficult to write.

I am not being critical of anyone but I am very sad about a system that has lost its way.