Since the Government announced the withdrawal of student funding for would-be nurses last year, we are already hearing of a 20% drop in applications for graduate nursing courses. And the 1% pay cap on salaries is not helping to encourage people into nursing and is making existing nurses reconsider whether they can even afford to continue. If the NHS wants to achieve a clean bill of health, we need to ensure there is adequate staffing, funding, resource and education. The health of the nation is at stake.
Once the production team started to research the series what they found was things we'd never seen before - the extent of cancelled ops, the failing targets, outsourcing of some procedures and 'health tourism'. But they also found extraordinary resilience, remarkably understanding patients and an ability to perform some of the best care and surgery in the world.
Before we'd even sat down, the consultant told us all the tumours had shrunk. My friend let out a slow breath, Oh that's wonderful, he beamed - at me, the consultant and the nurse. My bottom had just hit the seat and I was about to place my handbag on the floor when the doctor spoke again, 'So here are your blood test forms, we'll see you in four weeks.'
We know how lucky we are to have the NHS and it's services, spanning physical and mental health care. Sometimes though, we leave with our bodies healed, and our spirits a little diminished. If you have spent time visiting a loved one in a mental health unit, a situation that curator Niamh White and artist Tim A Shaw found themselves in, you may come away thinking that the environment of these units could do with some care.
Looking at the numbers, a GP appointment costs on average £13.50, while a hospital appointment costs £108. If we can free up GPs to see more patients and get those people on the mend without going to hospital then everyone's a winner. So what are the ways hospitals will be working more effectively with GPs?
There is an old saying that you can't pour from an empty cup, but I was shocked at how quickly my ability to support my son was compromised. Something as basic as not eating properly, or sleeping a full night, hell, even something as small as not having open access to hot drinks, add up fast; which I learned to my cost once we moved to the children's ward.
If the government wants to improve patient access it should invest in this; in allowing community pharmacies to help, instead of closing 'potentially' a quarter of them. Instead of being forced to go to your GP you can walk in to the pharmacist with no appointment and be seen, in most cases, immediately.
Flowers and baskets of fruit can also take up precious space around the patient. When undergoing treatment there is a lot of equipment around the bed, and if people are in for a while they have all their own bits & pieces too - everything in an already limited space. And having to ask visitors to take large items home each time they visit can also be a pain.
I'll never forget sitting with my friend in the hospital and being told that it was cancer. Being diagnosed was the scariest experience of my life. Still, to this day I really find it difficult to express how much of a shock it was, just because you hear stories all the time and the word 'cancer' fills you with fear. You think, 'it won't happen to me'.
We need to change the conversation. We can stop laying the blame for a major public health issue in the laps of individual women, and acknowledge the collective responsibility of us all to remove the barriers to breastfeeding which lead to eight out of ten women reporting they had to stop breastfeeding before they had wanted to.
I love the NHS and want it to succeed as much as the most ardent NHS supporter. My care had everything - professional, knowledgeable staff who were compassionate, friendly, supportive and caring, combined with outstanding facilities. As a new mum I could not have asked for more for me or our daughter.