I was politically ambivalent about the general election. Like a lot of NHS staff, I was torn between knowing that things were bad in the health service, especially in general practice, but equally knowing that a change of government would inevitably mean some sort of re-branding, reorganisation and changes of priorities. I knew an NHS on its knees already wouldn't cope with that. When the result came in, it was going to be more of the same. No massive changes, just slogging on trying to get the government to listen. I was totally wrong.
While Cameron may pacify us that there will be no switch to an insurance-based model (although he wants to "turn the NHS into a fantastic business"), ...
What do the next five years hold for the NHS? The pre-election jamboree is quickly evaporating. The promise of billions more in funding now feels like a distant sound-bite. The Daily Telegraph recently set the tone with a front page headline in which Jeremy Hunt declared that the NHS now has enough money and will have to make do. However, all the talk on funding in the election debates completely missed the point.
Around 7,500 nurses from the EU registered to work in the UK last year. This is an increase on the previous year, which was an increase on the year before that. Overseas nurses have played a vital role in the NHS since its inception, and will continue to do so, but clearly when trusts are relying more and more on this form of recruitment something is going wrong.
A truly seven day NHS is something we should aspire towards. I don't disagree with that. But as with everything else, it is the timescale and funding which is wholly unrealistic and will inevitably lead to harm to patients. Can he not remember the waiting time breaches of last winter? Is he ignoring the GP practices closing across the country? This is not doctors wanting a lifestyle choice. Our first role is to act in our patients best interests, as an advocate for them. Why does Mr Hunt refuse to listen to the profession, both at national and grass roots level? Why is he hell bent on chasing headlines and not on improving care and patient safety?
The "one-size fits all" world of Mr Hunt's metropolitan life, with seven-day access to a GP or nurse you've never met, to treat the minor self-limiting illness that has been irritating you since that morning, will not help these patients. They need to see professionals who are experienced, highly skilled, with the time and resources to care for them.
Now the Independent Living Fund has closed, I would be foolish if I did not say I was not a little nervous about the future of my support, but I have and will always be nervous about any assessment, because they all have an element of uncertainty even when there is little to worry about. I also understand any change leads to concern, and it is important to stay calm, and stick with the facts, as no news is good news.
Thousands of nurses have left their homes and moved to the other side of the world, to work for the NHS in hospitals, our emergency departments and in our care homes. For the vast majority, their starting salary will be about £21,000 a year. Without them many health and social care organisations would struggle to deliver safe care. Their reward for this contribution to our health service? If they don't somehow increase their salary to £35,000 they will be forced to leave the country after six years.
This kind of language, pillorying the very people working hard to maintain a safe service, is bad enough when it appears in a shoddy piece of journalism, but should simply be beneath a secretary of state. I know I am not the only one who reacted in this way. A great many midwives and people working in and around our profession have been in touch to express similar thoughts.
At the minute many NHS staff are compromising their own health so they can provide basic patient care. Your workforce is exhausted and demoralised, and being told to make £22billion of efficiency savings in a setting already pared to the bone. I see these staff as my patients. When the stress gets too much, they come to me. Usually exhausted, often in tears. I feel like shaking you Mr Cameron. You absolute hypocrite. How dare you?
It has not yet been a month since the General Election and only a week has passed since the Queen's speech. Yet the reality of things to come under a Conservative majority government is already clear and it's the future of our NHS that concerns me the most.
I honestly do not know what is going to happen to NHS General Practice in the UK. What is even more worrying is that neither do my colleagues, both high and low, ivory tower or coal face, working or retired.
I wonder now, as we prepare for draconian cuts, if we should not be petitioning for constructive utilisation of budgets, budgets for social change, rather than shrill and angry complaints. Should we not jettison our outrage at government policy as little more than theatrical, and instead constructively temper our minds to solutions. We should learn to box clever. I get a distinct feeling that many of the angriest welfare cuts critics shout as though fascism has won, the poor have be driven into the streets, and all social good has been routed. These representatives of the poor might want to start involving the poor in their own redemption out of poverty.
Monday brought the first announcements on the NHS from David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt since the election - although as John Humphrys rightly pointed out in his interview with Mr Hunt, they have been doing the job for five years already. Greeted with trepidation by NHS staff, the announcements outlined some key policies. Consequently I am disillusioned, sad and angry, in equal measures... I'm no expert Mr Cameron, but I think your business plan is shocking. It is going to fail. It is going to push the NHS to collapse, and we are already teetering dangerously on the brink. Push it into the hands of private providers. Which the cynic in me says is your endgame.
Turn around, and instead of facing the politicians, face us. Face the doctors, nurses and staff. Focus on us. Put all your energy into uniting us, pulling us together, getting a single, determined voice from the NHS. Whatever the politicians plan, they think we will roll over. They think we will be the apathetic, disgruntled bunch we always have been who will lie down and accept their changes. Use your power and your organisations to bring us together and show them that this is a step too far.
With both main parties holding strong leads on one issue but being weak on another, and with polarisation among the electorate so that each's strength on one issue is mostly important to its own voters but cancelled out among its opponents', this may be the first election we have recorded where the winning party is not the one who is seen as strongest on the key issue.