I want to talk about a possible crisis but I don’t want to sound like a scaremongerer and I don’t want to ask too much of people.
So let’s begin.
This winter if the weather is severe and if there is a major flu epidemic our hospitals will struggle.
We can forget the four-hour maximum wait in A&E, it will be much longer.
And there will not be enough beds even if routine work is suspended.
The demands on our general practitioners and their teams will be enormous.
We will be safe but not as safe as we were.
Why? Medical advances mean more can be done, placing more demands on the system.
An ageing population does that too, as does a rising birth rate.
What can we do? The answer is, I think, a difficult one.
In a crisis – war, for example – questions are not asked about hours worked or overtime pay.
People get on with it. That is the big ask for the NHS and it is a big ask, hard working men and women working even harder.
Seven days a week, forget weekends for a while. Front-line work only, stop or reduce all the health checks, they can be started later.
Named doctors and named nurses save time, stopping the endless repetition of patients’ stories and 24-hour district nursing teams that might enable patients to stay at home.
I can see my former colleagues’ hackles rising.
Perhaps what I am suggesting is extreme but isn’t there some sense in it? I hope so.