In this ‘bleak mid-winter’, chest infections, viral infections, increased levels of influenza type symptoms have peaked even before Christmas and New Year. On top of that we have an ageing population and a thing called multi-morbidity.In other words as people live longer they suffer from more than one , sometimes several different conditions at once.
The media on the other hand do not want to deal with ‘whole systems’ approaches to health.They cannot cope with reporting on community based responses to combatting loneliness among older people or the massively successful recovery movement in Scotland working to help people in recovery from alcohol and drugs dependence .
The medias main ‘capacity’ for thought is that of the sausage factory approach, a simplistic Accident and Emergency one door in and one door out and how long it takes before you get home.People are seen as objects on a production line to be measured by ‘time and motion’ processes in a bean counting exercise.
This is what gets reported and today Tuesday 9th of January we see the BBC highlighting waiting times in NHS Scotland yet again.This is nothing more than a sideways attack on the Scottish Government but in a way it is a corporation behaving as one unit as the BBC in England are also doing it to some extent. Breaking this down, it is interesting to ask why this is.
The right wing agenda in Westminster so boldly covered by Laura Kuenssberg and her BBC colleagues promotes similar attacks on the NHS. The main motivation down south seems to be the relentless attacks on the core principles of the NHS, free at the point of delivery.
The Conservatives grand plan includes the wholesale privatisation of the NHS.This isn’t just a twinkling in the eye of Theresa May it is actually happening. Theresa May has just carried out a cabinet re-shuffle of sorts, not a dramatic one you understand more like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
One of the ‘young hopefuls’ was touted to be the new Health minister. Anne Milton (63) has worked as a nurse but her marriage to Dr Graham Henderson, who serves as a director of Virgin Health Care in Surrey seems to have been noticed as a liability. So no change in Health Ministry. The point is that the Tories long term game is to let ‘creeping privatisation’ take its course. Dr Henderson has worked for Virgin Health Care for 5 years and privatisation has become well established in many English Counties. The motivation of the media therefore in criticising the NHS has to be seen in this context. It is failing, so they say, because its free.
Virgin Health Care are drawing staff from the NHS with adverts like this.
Media attacks on the NHS affect morale and feed the privatisation process.In turn this weakens the NHS to more attacks. The problem is Unionist Parties in Scotland and the media in Scotland all take their agenda from London so they do not differentiate between a poorer performing, privatising NHS in England and a quite different NHS Scotland which has been developed and managed in a quite different way under the SNP Government.
As a result we are being bombarded by negative news which also undermines the morale of staff here, unless we don’t support them publicly. We need to celebrate our NHS staff more.
So lets look at Scotland’s NHS. But we will not look at the website just now, lets look at Accident and Emergency from a personal perspective. My Father is 92. Unusually he is normally quite fit and able for a man of his age but before Christmas he had one of the many viral infections that are prevalent just now. He had already had a flu jab and he went on to develop a chest infection and was given two courses of antibiotics over a three week period.At the end of this he was still experiencing symptoms that were concerning so his GP arranged to see him.I was there and was called in to get an explanation.He was not to attend A&E but what GP’s call the GP receiving unit.Its when GP’s need answers for their patients that they are not equipped to provide- x-rays, scans, blood tests, etc,.
So on this one day starting early in the morning my Father saw his GP who referred us to a GP receiving unit/AKA Accident and emergency .We attended, passed on the letter to reception and were asked to wait. After awhile he was triaged, i.e. seen by two more health professionals.One gave him a pretty high tech heart check as there were signs of an irregular heart beat.He was given feedback right away that he was okay.The other health professional put in a device for taking blood samples and took some blood tests. We went back to the waiting room. All this time about 40 other people who were at various stages in their treatment were also being given attention.
A bit later on we were called again and this time for a chest x-ray.Very shortly after that we saw a junior consultant who gave him a full examination and asked a lot of questions about how he had been feeling.By this time he was moved into a receiving ward and it was looking like he might be staying the night. The junior consultant went to see the senior consultant and he came and also examined him. We got a detailed diagnosis and were told that two other tests were required to rule out certain problems.So it was pyjama time , which were already there in a bag. Its good to be prepared.
In the course of a total of 4 and half hours my Father had seen his GP, two very qualified nurse health practitioners, an x-ray operator, a junior consultant and a senior consultant not counting the auxiliary staff who brought him his dinner.
For people who moan about waiting times in the NHS they are missing a point. I personally think that the service my Father got that day was amazing. The NHS in Scotland is much bigger than A&E, it is caring for people in communities, it is serving GP practices and making them more efficient at keeping people like my Father living comfortably in his own home where he most wants to be, living independently for as long as he can.
The media can whine all it likes about A&E waiting times but anyone we know who has loved ones being treated by NHS Scotland overwhelmingly have praise for the staff who serve the public, including the ambulance crews and a whole range of other staff like Occupational Therapists and Health Visitors.
Politicians use the NHS as a political football and we have had enough of it. It must stop.
In Scotland our government is not talking with Richard Branson and his Virgin Health Care Tory cronies. On the other hand it is actively trying to address the whole system approach to health care in Scotland in keeping with the ‘Cradle to Grave’ principles the NHS was set up to deliver. That includes promoting well being and best practice in early years care and parenting.
We can only be proud of our NHS in Scotland now because we do not know at what point we stop talking about the NHS (UK) as the rapid privatisation is making it difficult to compare it with NHS Scotland . There is a very strong case for defending the NHS in Scotland from the same fate in England but unfortunately Unionist Parties are too busy trying to blame the SNP for everything that they sometimes conflate the issues of NHS England with NHS Scotland when we know they are two very different entities. If we do ever get over the current focus on Brexit, which also damages the NHS all over the UK due to the haemorrhaging of qualified staff, Scotland will need to defend its NHS even more. We think that above all else NHS Scotland is reason enough to support a second independence referendum for all our people from the cradle to the grave. G.