The NHS in meltdown – was it predicted or predictable?

NHSSINKS images (2)?


Even those of us on the outside and ‘not in the know’ could have told you a year ago that the British Health Service after sixty five years was heading for the abyss. It was widely predicted by ‘those in the know’ that A&E was going to be in crisis last year – but it didn’t happen did it? No, because there was no widespread winter flu epidemic, so the emergency services escaped by the skin of their teeth didn’t they? But you can’t play Russian roulette (with more than one bullet in the chamber) and expect to get away with it, can you?

What is happening as we speak? Has the collapse of the system been caused by a catastrophic event? NO – not one thing but a multitude of things, not just non-clinically trained amateurs of non-emergency 111 replacing the professionals of NHS Direct (and substituting for 999), not just removal of GPs targets, not just an increased elderly population, not just staff shortages in A&E, not just reduction in social care provision, not just forcing GPs to carry financial responsibilities, not just shutting medical walk-in centres, not just reducing funds for A&E (only 30 percent of the treatment cost for numbers over the 2008 level), not just increased numbers – no, a multiple of changes made not to improve things but solely to reduce expenditure (never a constructive development, as any business runner will warn you).

The current meltdown in A&E has caused 999 call collapses, critical lack of ambulances in places, queuing ambulances outside hospitals, diversion of ambulances, excessive waiting times, blocked corridors, unavailability of hospital beds, doctor & nurse overload, wholesale cancellation of operations, hospital mayhem, declarations of ‘major incidents’ because of overload – and without doubt a lot of deaths (the statistics of which will never be published, will they?). Oh yes, and political uproar of course, would you say?

Those at the front line deserve widespread support, and not a moment’s criticism because they have been desperately & diligently trying to look after all ill people

Over the past nine months it was obvious to the insiders that the NHS ship was taking on water, a lot of water, and was heading for a watery grave. No doubt there were many motley government crew members bailing out with buckets, even though it was blatantly obvious that that couldn’t save the ship – the vane hope was to keep the ship afloat until after the May General Election’s votes had been counted, don’t you think? Then, the fact that the NHS was terminally ill could be diagnosed by a new Tory government and they could achieve their long term goal and turn to the private sector to save the sick Health Service.

Indeed nearly a year ago we found out about the gravity of the NHS situation because the majority of Health Service Trusts were in or heading for deficit, and that the predicted shortfall for NHS finances would be of the order of thirty billion pounds {that is £30, 000,000,000 everyone] during the next parliament. Did that give us all a clue that the tornado of failure was about to overwhelm our trusted service? No hint then of any effective action though by the Government of the day was there? Oh no. only self congratulatory public announcements about how well they were doing on health? Sickening?

Government spokespersons and particularly PM David Cameron, are fond of boasting about four things about the Health Service – more money going into the NHS, more patients treated,, more doctors, more nurses. Let us look at those things shall we?

Certainly more Money has gone in, but at a reduced rate, and has it been enough you might ask? The answer from all sides is a big resounding “NO”. For a start you need more money to just stand still; you need more money as costs escalate for equipment, drugs, and staff (cheating the nurses out of a pay rise didn’t stop that in its tracks did it?), and new treatments.

But what about the astonishing issue of wasted money at the heart of it all? The Conservatives had promised before the last election that there would be ‘no top down reorganisation’ of the NHS – yet once in power they quickly embarked without mandate on the most expensive and biggest set of changes in the history of the organisation (opposed by all the professionals), didn’t they? The destruction of the total structure, the demise of the PCTs (and whatever you thought of them they knew what they were about, and the new boys didn’t did they?), and an unbelievable squandering of money. A massive amount of cash spent – some 3 billion pounds {that is £3,000,000,000 everyone] with much of it taken away from front line services. It is said by some that the ‘inevitable’ consequence of this unexpected & unannounced revolution is ‘privatisation’.

Less than two years ago the PM told the House of Commons “We will ensure waiting times are kept low”, yet figures this week show that A&E waiting is at the highest level for ten years, and operation waiting the worst for six years. Was that simple naivety, a major misjudgment, or a downright untruth, do you believe?

There were bound to be more Patients because an increasingly UK aging population means more illness, and better survival rates from illnesses like cancer means an increase in treatment (you don’t need medical training to know that was coming along the line did you?). You can’t blame patients for the current & INCREASING crisis in the NHS surely?

More Doctors eh? The UK trained doctors have ALL resulted from the investment by the previous LABOUR government BECAUSE it takes at least FIVE YEARS for them to be trained. So not even ONE new doctor is down to the Coalition Government and any claimed increase is NOTHING to do with them, and is mendacious or nothing to boast about, surely?

There is a chronic shortage these days of Nurses all across Britain, and many hospitals are desperately bringing them in from abroad – with all the adverse consequences of that. There may well be more nurses around (not enough though), but what credit can the current government take for that? They actually slashed nurse training for their first three years in power so compounded the shortage now, and they have in fact delivered LESS nurses themselves (because it takes a minimum of THREE years to train them)?


[Tory PM Thatcher & PM Major brought the NHS to its knees between 1979 & 1997.

“The NHS is safe in our hands” (Quotes by Thatcher 1983 & Cameron 2006).

Do we think so?

If Labour do win the Election can they resuscitate the NHS? Unlikely you might conclude?].


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