Since being appointed as a shadow health minister in September I have been keen to spend some time on the front line to see what life is really like for hard-pressed NHS staff. So I recently spent a night shadowing an emergency medicine consultant at the Countess of Chester hospital... Until you are actually there it is difficult to comprehend just how relentless the job is. Staff were working at full tilt and the nature of the work was such that they could never catch up with the demand - even when 'it's not that bad for a Saturday night'.
In an increasingly capitalist world it is easy to give in to temptation, however, that is neither the ethos nor the mandate of a socialist NHS. Before forcing through change let us talk yet perhaps more importantly; let us listen. Only then we can devise a strategy on how to deliver the future, together.
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?
To a Brit, it is a truly frightening and confusing and bank account-draining system. We got our daughter to the nearest emergency medical centre in our arms, and the staff immediately asked us to complete two long forms for the insurance company, and for a swipe of our credit card (you'll notice this is a recurring theme) before they even inquired what was wrong with our little girl or showed any signs of compassion whatsoever. It makes you angry to witness. Money is absolutely the priority in any medical scenario here. The average cost of an ambulance ride in LA for instance is $1,200 (£800).
Although free at the point of delivery, the NHS is not a 'free for all' and though treatment is not rationed, it must be rational. Having spent 15 years in the same job, at the sharp end of the NHS, I have seen fancy ideas and initiatives change policy and procedure, trying to trim the cost of the service...
Only 3% of women in the UK are totally happy with their bodies...that is ABSOLUTELY CRAZY...even the slim people are bloody unhappy with their bodies...don't you get it? slimness shouldn't be the goal...happiness should be regardless of what size you are. I argue that being unhappy is THE most unhealthiest way to be.
For a long time awareness of what pharmacists do (in addition to dispensing medicines) and how they can help patients has been low. Yet pharmacists can support better patient centred care within health and social care, particularly with the support of other NHS colleagues. And that support is building.