I haven't blogged for a while. The reason will shock our esteemed Prime Minister. It's because I've been a bit busy - see Mrs May, I'm a GP. So waking up on Saturday to hear your briefing to the press suggesting that I am to blame for the current crisis in the NHS, and that you will 'order' me and all my colleagues to be open 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm, made me pick up my laptop.
It has felt that the last six years have seen the NHS in perpetual crisis but there is now a real sense that the service is being irreversibly damaged, most importantly the impact on our patients is becoming painfully clear. As healthcare workers our priority is the patients we serve and we must ensure it is their care and their priorities that directs how the service is run, but this is not just a fight that concerns NHS staff. The NHS belongs to us all and we all have a responsibility to safeguard it.
My partner and I are lucky. We have both worked for many years in a succession of well-paid roles and managed to live well. When we were told that the only option was IVF, and that we would have to pay, I was in the fortunate position that I had just received a bonus from work and my partner had a little saved.
The National Audit Office today became the latest organisation to lay bare the real and growing threat the health service's financial woes pose to its very existence beyond 2020. Its combined financial deficit has trebled in a year and is likely to reach upwards of £30billion by the end of the decade.
Putting physical activity at the heart of community infrastructure is the only long-term solution to save the NHS from bankruptcy. It is time to take the bold and radical decisions to integrate physical activity into our daily lives. For the sake of our health and that of the NHS, we must all take responsibility.
When the practical and economic feasibility of a routine 7-day NHS has been roundly debunked by senior doctors, service providers and analyists, it is only natural to ask how this is going to happen. Maybe, we ought to be thinking a little more naturally ourselves, and prepare for our complementary secretary of state for health to give us a very complementary 7-day routine NHS.
The NHS is one of our most beloved institutions with principles that people value and admire but like any public service it must adapt. We need to find long term solutions. Our inquiry will get to the core of the challenges that the NHS will face over the next two decades and beyond. We hope that it will lead to a cross-party consensus on a sustainable approach to better healthcare for all.
Too many members of the gay community, with our hard-won marriages, our adopted kids, our newfound respectability, regard the guys who haven't yet got there as traitors. Letting down the side. Tainting the gay brand. Doing what the homophobes accuse us of. Let's not be Pharisees. Let's welcome our gay brothers into the fold and protect them from what is still the most serious consequence of sexual risk. Let us save them from HIV. Let us offer them PrEP.
We often hear that some nurses are short of compassion, but for the overwhelming majority of the profession, this is simply not true and there is certainly no evidence that shows that this is the problem underlying current concerns about quality. We do however have ample evidence that they are often short of time, compromising their ability both to show that compassion and to maintain safety. Safe staffing is not an optional extra.
This government seems to have ignored the real victims to their proposals: the elderly, the vulnerable, the immobile and those without access to transport. The housebound; those who pharmacy has helped to remain living independently in their own homes for longer. The frail, and those who have little resource or influence to fight back.
The NHS has long been used as a political football. And on Thursday we saw the radical idea of a cross party agreement on co-operation for the future direction and funding sources rejected. This was despite almost universal agreement (from the health care professionals cum politicians) that joined up action is needed, and needed now.
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'.
Kate's story shows just how important it is for commissioners and service-providers to do their best to help people who are approaching the end of life to stay out of hospital. They can save on costs and beds in a severely over-stretched NHS - and most importantly, they can help make it possible for dying people to be cared for in the place they want to be.
The truth is that there is outrageous discrimination at the heart of the NHS. If you have suspected cancer you have a right to see a specialist within two weeks - and rightly so. But if you are a teenager with an eating disorder - a condition which can kill - you have no such right. It's impossible to justify that.
We cannot rely on charities: this needs to be a top priority for our Government and we need to find ways of working together to address this issue. It's no good having policy in place if it is not put into practice. The system needs to be overhauled and fast, if we are to provide the care and support that all disabled children and their families deserve.