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Secret Diary of a PM - Winter Pressures in the NHS

With winter well on the way, our anonymous blogger shares first-hand stories of how they’ve seen the increasing pressure being placed on the NHS from both perspectives – from the point of view of a PM and a patient.


As we enter the colder months, apart from the flu clinics, we are expected to have winter plans in place to cover the high demand expected on the NHS. It certainly does not look good if my recent experience is anything to go by - resources can only be cut so far.

In early September my spouse took ill and it was really unlike them to ask to go to A&E on a weeknight at 10pm. Whilst we did consider calling 111, they were in so much pain that we felt concerned that 111 would only say ‘see your GP tomorrow’.


So, we arrived and the sign said expect a three-hour wait - we could see the waiting room was already reasonably full. 


Within 30 minutes we were triaged and it was then decided to run some tests. When we went through to the clinical side I was shocked at what I saw. There were people either on chairs or trolleys in every conceivable place and the staff were obviously overwhelmed by the sheer demand.

Having had an ECG we were told that it needed to be done again and so waited a further 30 minutes. Naturally it raised concerns with us. After that there was an x-ray ordered and that came back with no breakages.

We were dealt with in a professional manner throughout by kind staff who were clearly under a great deal of pressure. I spoke to many of them and wondered how they continue under such conditions. One nurse said she was on duty for seven nights, 12 hours each night.  Where do the EU working regulations come in? It is just horrendous.
 

We were told people had been on trolleys for over 21 hours and that the ambulances had been diverted for over two hours due to no beds being available.

After that we met a consultant, and as room was scarce we were in more like a cupboard with him sitting on the floor, no desk and only one chair. It shocked me but despite this we could not have received better care and attention - I cannot speak highly enough of the staff there.  The consultant was at a loss to know why a second ECG was ordered as the first one was fine.

 The next day, still in agony, my spouse called our GP practice and was booked in.  Again, the service was excellent, however the sharing of records came up, which we had many years ago refused to sign up to.

At that time, we were sceptical of its uses, but because we had not signed up the surgery had not yet received any discharge papers and were unsure of how to proceed, although we had given all of the details. We immediately decided to alter our decision for the future as we were really left at a disadvantage. Once again though, we received first-rate, calm attention. 


An increasing problem we are having at my own surgery is getting an ambulance when we call 999.


I have written before about the absurdity that calls from GP practices are being downgraded because of where the call is coming from.  This is ridiculous as a GP only calls for help when they perceive that it is an urgent condition.

Only last week we had a young child that was very poorly when seen by the doctor. Despite calling for a 999 ambulance, the time it took to arrive was over 45 minutes.  They only came after we called back to say we were running out of oxygen (a significant event on its own) and the patient could go into cardiac arrest.

The NHS need to get a grip and if its founders could see this NHS being used for profit, they would be turning in there graves. These are worrying trends and I cannot see any respite in the situation and I do foresee difficulties over the next few months. 

With the NHS service this over-stretched already, I shudder to think of what it will be like in the depths of winter.


Comments

RICHARD JARMAN 24/10/2018

Your author draws a conclusion, although not does not detail instances, of a profit motive adding to or creating (it is not clear) winter pressures. There are indeed structural issues and lack of seamless integration which surface at pinch points: this is not new. The NHS Transformation process / 5 Year strategies have identified this and looks to create improvements - we can argue whether the New Care Models have/will make a step change - profit / private-public / a plural health economy has too been a feature of the last 70 Years of the NHS and to allow the reader to focus on this as though it were a new and dominant regressive feature is to encourage them to take their eye of the ball and to arrive at false and unhelpful misconceptions


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