- Posted Tuesday April 25, 2017
The sudden, unexpected 2017 General Election has been called and, despite the projected outcome, I am not convinced. There are a lot of issues at play - not just Brexit as we are being told. The NHS has taken a battering over the last few years and I sometimes feel that we may not have fought the politicians enough on the handling of their policies.
In past articles I have defended the NHS as being a victim of its own success and I recognise that we do not have access to a bottomless pit off cash. If we doubled the budget it would still be inadequate. However, our representatives seem to be reluctant to suggest any solutions, as it may damage their chances of being elected, or be unpopular with the general population.
Is any party going to be bold enough to perhaps suggest an increase in tax/NI of say one or two pence, which will then be ring-fenced for the NHS and social care?
Polls suggest that the population would accept such an increase and yet politicians shy away from making such a move - why?
Should we be having a debate as to what is, and what isn’t, allowed on the NHS? Procedures like IVF and cosmetic surgery need a standard approach and not the postcode lottery we have now. Can we afford these procedures today?
Why are practices paid on a weighted list size and not the actual numbers of registered patients? Should we be providing overseas aid at the expense of looking after our own? And so on.
I have written in the past about people power, and the voice we should have, but do not possess. There has been a view that things cannot be changed, so why bother to try. I say if we do not try we will never know. In my area we had a local meeting within days of the calling of the General Election for GPs and practice managers - as a result we have agreed to take the fight to the politicians.
We are in the process of getting a website up and running that puts facts and figures out for patients so they can see what is really going on, and what plans are in the pipeline. We are highlighting things like what 8am-to-8pm and seven-days-a-week opening will mean in reality and not what politicians are insinuating.
We are going to be factual and ensure our practice populations are aware of the risks ahead of us if nothing is done.
The press and politicians seem happy to avoid discussing the situation, but we are not.
We are calling on our local PPGs to funnel this information out to patients and asking everyone to engage with all the local party candidates, putting forward the questions they do not want to answer. This will hopefully galvanise a response that may just lead to getting some policy changes or clarity on the future of the NHS. The country can send a message as to what future it wants for the NHS.
It is probably a bit optimistic to hope we can spread this movement across the whole country in the short time we have left. However, anything we can do is better than just letting things happen to us. So why not take our lead, become vociferous and let your patients know the facts and get them on board to force the issue with the media and the politicians to protect the NHS - now and into the future.
Can we do this? Can we force changes? Can we get commitments? We will not know until we try, however doing nothing is just not an option. I’d certainly be interested to hear news of any other initiatives that are gearing up across the country.
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