It does seem that some very cold-blooded individuals have been hard at work at NHS England in their efforts to modernise our Health Service. Moving care out of hospitals, placing virtual doctors in libraries, using video links to outpatients to assess and discharge them, similar ideas have been around for a while and we will have to get used to them in the 21st century. In the process, however, we will lose 19 hospitals, 2000 hospital beds, and almost 3000 jobs.
In their headlong rush to offload care into the community, away from hospitals, in order to save £22 billion, so-called efficiency “experts” appear to have forgotten to include a dose of the humanity we have come to take for granted in our brilliant NHS. Few of us have probably heard of STP’s, “Sustainability and Transformation Plans”, but they are due to be finalised this April. The NHS certainly needs an update, as does Social Care, but looking at the patient as an individual seems to have been left out of the thinking of these focus groups when they put their strategy together.
Don’t we need a bit of physical contact with a human being, a nurse, doctor, or even a hospital porter, in order to help us feel reassured when we’re in the grip of the pain and stress which illness can bring? Is it right that in future while those who can afford it could be paying for a same day GP appointment, seeing private consultants, booking quick operations, others who can’t will be dealing with a virtual NHS and managing as best they can at home, making do with a second-class service which treats them as a unit not as a person?
Our much valued NHS has to move with the times but humanity should be at the heart of this “transformation”. Ordinary people like you and me have paid hard-earned money all their working lives for the care they and their families have come to depend on. Give us a modernised NHS with the same ideals of ‘care for all’ as when it was first introduced, proudly, by a Labour government almost seventy years ago. Labour is fighting to help save it. Our Branch is playing its part too.
On Saturday, March 4th there will be a National Demonstration in support of our NHS, starting at 12 o’clock at Tavistock Square, London WC1, then marching to Parliament. Our new banner is ready for its first proper outing. Will you be there to help carry it? Look for details on our website and Facebook pages.