Wednesday, 12 March 2014

With the news yesterday of the power of closure of hospitals being given to one person in this case the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt I wonder if this is a bright new future or the beginning of the end of the health system as we love and know it.,

Many if not all of us have grown up with the NHS and have used its services either as a first port of call for anything medical or in the unfortunate need of an emergency. I myself have used it many times and if it wasn't for the NHS there is no doubt that I would not be alive today. For me and most of the population the NHS is an example of what makes this country great and it instils a sense of national pride in our psyche when we hear or read those three letters. We have so much to be grateful for to the services it provides and the staff that run the hospitals and other functions within the NHS.

Yet yesterdays news is as we know todays fish and chip paper and the story has overnight dropped rapidly down the newsworthy list. But this does not mean it will go away. For the time being it is buried beneath other stories but it will return to the top once Hunt decides to save some cash and close a hospital.

But what would closing hospitals and saving money really mean for the people who matter most, that is the general public who use them and for whom the NHS is the only means of access to a health service, people who cannot afford to go private? In my own area Calderdale NHS is considering closing the accident and emergency at Calderdale Royal Hospital,, and transferring the service to Huddersfield. This could potentially mean journeys with an extra 30 minutes of time added on. Calderdale is a large area and some of the outlying areas are quite remote. For people in these areas an extra 30 minutes could mean life or death. And it is the same for people living in Halifax the main town in Calderdale and the surrounding areas. The main artery to Huddersfield can become very jammed at times of rush hour traffic, again increasing journey times to Huddersfield and again putting lives at risk. My point here is that if this was to be repeated around the country and hospitals were either shut down or services transferred to another hospital, what may look like a minimal journey on a map may in fact be quite lengthy in reality. By giving so much power to one person are we in-fact putting life or death decisions in their hands. Decisions that may be made on a cost basis without any consideration for lives? Is it morally and ethically correct to give one person so much responsibility? Can we trust them to make the right decisions and choices for people based on the matter of life or death, or will they merely make it on a cost basis without any regard for the human factor? For me this is a decision we should all be very worried about and care about as well. The MP's who voted through this legislation yesterday will not be affected by it I strongly suspect. They will have private medical insurance and access to the best medical facilities near them. If a hospital closes I doubt it will affect their health choices or chances. But for millions of others it will.

It also asks the question if this is the end of the NHS as we know it? Will we now see more and more services contracted out to private suppliers who are only interested in putting profit before care? will we see G4S, Serco and Capita beginning to slowly take over our hospitals with the ensuing cuts in staffing and services that will inevitably follow? If this does happen I am sure all the insurance companies will jump in with the necessary insurance needs? But can you truly cater for the multitude of physical and mental health conditions that permeate society today? Of course this does happen in other countries such as America and Australia where you need medical insurance to access services or face a huge bill. But would this work here and would our taxes drop because we all pay for the NHS through our taxes.

Of course the alternative scenario is that nothing at all will happen and the impact on the NHS will be minimal. All the rhetoric we are hearing is merely political scare mongering bearing in mind 2015 is an election year. No hospitals will close, disruption to services will be minimal and we will have a choice. High quality care provided quickly through private health providers or waiting and waiting to see someone on the NHS. Which is pretty much the scenario we have today!

I do apologise for rambling on but my main points are, have we put too much power in one persons hands and what of the future of the NHS? Only time will tell but it is a subject we should all be taking an interest in if we care about humanity in any way.



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