The NHS is a system we all take for granted and I cannot begin to express its worth, or the worth of its employees. However, when faced with the all challenges it has had, the NHS struggles to provide the help nurses deserve, much less adequately address and support staff with chronic health problems. Nurses struggle, and their health suffers.
Just a few weeks ago, news broke that Gill Pharaoh - a healthy 75 year old retired nurse - had chosen to end her own life at a Swiss suicide clinic. Whatever your stance on euthanasia or assisted suicide, for me the story raised another very important question. Can our health service truly support an aging population?
Imagine you are suffering a crisis. You've been tipped over the edge and are so distressed that you are overwhelmed by thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Now imagine that, instead of being given appropriate NHS care and support, you are locked up in a police cell like a criminal. This was exactly what happened to 161 young people in England and Wales last year.
Your safety is being put at risk. My greatest fear is that nothing changes, the NHS slowly crumbles, stretching more and more, doctors too tired to concentrate, patient care suffering, safety put at risk. You as a patient know this from your experiences every day. If the NHS is going to survive for the future, all of us - patients, public, professionals and politicians, need to accept that it isn't working. We need an honest discussion about its future. We need to start talking.
We have seen glimpses of innovation agility across the system - last year just 3% of GPs in England offered patients' online appointments, repeat prescriptions and access to summary information in medical records. Now this stands at 97%. A decade ago, it cost millions to sequence a genome, now it's less than £1,000.
Making the right connections can not only serve you well for career development, but can be vital alliances during challenging times, for the provision of advice, information and support.
Maybe there really is just a sense of futility about the whole thing. Maybe it would be easier to sit back and let the powers that be take control and dismantle our health service, transforming it into whatever they feel is the best for the British public. My issue with this argument is that it is not for the government to decide for us. As many of the fantastic speakers at Crash Call reminded us, this is OUR NHS. We pay for it and we use it, so we should have a say in its future.
The first 100 days of the new government have seen a number of significant reports and announcements about mental health services and the lives of people with mental health conditions. They include some very promising signs of continued commitment to improving mental health but also some major strains on the system that needs to be addressed.
Last year the NHS spent £1.1 billion to settle legal claims and this is expected to rise to £1.4 billion this year. The majority of this money does not go to the injured parties. To put this expenditure into context, the NHS spends approximately £1.3 billion annually on cancer drugs.
Compared to most global crises, antibiotic resistance has received little attention. This week, the topic finally found its rightful place at the top of the news agenda but this is just the beginning: it is going to take a lot to even slow this down. Antibiotic resistance affects the health of every single person - and it is going take every one of those people to help overcome it.
This is a vision worth striving for, matched with policies designed to deliver it. Who would Aneurin Bevan have supported as Leader of today's Labour Party? Answer: Jeremy Corbyn, no doubt.
Cutting this budget is incredibly short-sighted. £200million saved now will result in massive expenditure and massive suffering in the future. Unfortunately these cuts are already coming and getting into a lather about it now is unlikely to change that.
What the health secretary's plans fail to realise is that there are bigger issues that need to be addressed, other than the contracts of consultants, to achieve an effective seven-day NHS.
Jeremy Corbyn has created a debate that will alter the course of Labour Party history, whatever the outcome. I give him credit for that and to those who nominated him. He has woken up the real dinosaurs in the parliamentary party with a roar, but that alone is not enough.
In order to have a socially progressive society, we need to empower women to take charge of their own health through education and open discussion. Throwaway remarks devaluing women's health issues should be snuffed out straight away since this is a dangerous game for politicians.
This series of articles will appear weekly and present my recommended Seven Survival Steps for black and ethnic minority staff working in the NHS, but may be a useful read to anyone with an interest in the NHS. The articles are excerpts from a forthcoming handbook, and provide highlights.