Thursday, 12 May 2011

What Do We Really Think About The NHS?

Please pardon the pun but are we, as a nation, more than a little schizophrenic about the NHS? Barely a week goes by without one media source or other carrying "damning" statistics about "postcode lotteries" or the heart-rending tale of an aggrieved patient. Routinely, one aspect or another of our health care system is compared unfavourably with most EU nations. But when radical change is proposed to improve patients' experience, the rage of the nation is palpable.

My family and I are very grateful to have the NHS; I alone had three operations under general anesthetic before the age of 35, all free at the point of delivery by competent and caring staff. Now I have a young family, the comfort blanket it provides is even more valued.

But the NHS is by no means perfect. It can be easier to get a ticket for Glastonbury than a doctor's appointment before all the slots have gone at 8.31am. And having to travel to hospital (and pay to park) multiple times for a series of assessments which could have been done on one visit is infuriating.

I don't know the answer. I'm sceptical about giving GPs control of budgets - have you seen the state of some their surgeries, levels of customer service, and amateurish clipart clutter everywhere? But changes are needed and the hysterical reaction to most new proposals are unhelpful and contradictory.

One final thought. No matter how good our health care system, and how much of our taxes we spend on it - I'm afraid people are still going to receive different levels of service. And, at the end, they will still die. It's sad but it's a fact of life.

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