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.
Jeremy talks a lot about seven day working in his speech. He seems to think that this is a new concept that nobody has thought about. He must be strolling around feeling rather proud of himself. Well I have news for you Mr Hunt... we already work weekends.
The current row about doctors working 24/7 is a smaller fray than other matters. My medic friends might slap me with a surgical glove for saying that,...
When I was a fresh faced junior doctor at Whipps Cross Hospital, I remember waking up at 5 am after 4 hours sleep on weekend mornings to get the patient list ready so I could guide the Consultant who would arrive at dawn for our weekend ward round.
Jeremy Hunt seems to be positioning himself as the strongman of the NHS. With escalating rhetoric and the use of threats he wishes to portray himself as a ferocious patient advocate standing up against a callous and uncaring medical profession. But, unless I'm much mistaken, much of what he is demanding already exists.
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.
The secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt, has made a national call for reconciliation with elderly relatives, following news that local councils are funding eight 'lonely funerals' per day. This statement is an excellent example of how out of touch government departments are on the realities of family life and breakdown.
Dear Mr Hunt, thank you so much for your kind speech detailing the new deal for GPs that you announced today. We have been waiting with baited breath to see what you would come up with. Well, you didn't disappoint. You fulfilled all the expectations of vague headline filling promises - 5000 more GPs, 5000 other clinicians. I notice you sneaked Physician Assistants into that last bit with Pharmacists and Nurses, gently implying that they are a proper job with a role in the UK healthcare system. Nicely done. You kept a lid on the time-scale - clever. I'm sure we will have 5000 more GPs over the next 50 years, but it's minor detail.
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?
While the outcome of the general election earlier this month may have come as a surprise to many, the subsequent naming of cabinet ministers has been altogether more predictable. Most of the Conservative incumbents have continued with their briefs, including Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.
Although the future of the BBC is likely to be the most high profile part of John Whittingdale's portfolio; technology - as a job enabler and creator - will no doubt also be a key priority. Here's my take on the top five tech issues likely to be sitting in the ministerial red box
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.