Health Service Roulette

I noted in today’s newspapers (16/05/15) that the NHS has reached a new low as 20,464 operations were cancelled at short notice from January to the end of March this year.  This is the highest quarterly number of cancellations for ten years.  The statistic resonates with me because I was due to have a skin cancer operation at my local hospital in February, but this was cancelled a few days before, ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’ and a new date issued in March.

I remember the shock and dismay I felt at the time – I had physically and mentally prepared for going into hospital for a delicate operation on my head, under general anaesthetic, with a few days in for monitoring afterwards.  I had notified friends and family, cleared my diary and even made a will in case things went badly.  In effect, I had to sit around twiddling my thumbs for a month until my new op. date came up, stressing about whether it would also be cancelled.

In the end it went ahead, and I woke up in a hospital bed on a ward, with a man who appeared to have dementia screaming all night in the bed next to me.  The nursing staff were great, and the surgeon visited me the next day to examine his handy work and declare it a cautious success.  Much monitoring would be required and attending the dressing clinic once a week for the next four weeks.  All in all, it went well and I was mightily relieved.

My heart goes out to all the patients waiting for their NHS operation dates to come up, fretting about whether their procedure will go ahead as scheduled, and about the state of our overcrowded hospitals.  A new Government who are not committed to public health will only intensive people’s worry.

Yes, they have pledged more financial support for the NHS, but their record in the last Government shows their policy is to privatise and shut down.  Downsizing and forcing people into the growing health private sector.  This doesn’t work for 90% of the population, who have consistently shown, in poll after poll, that having a free and properly functioning NHS is one of their highest priorities.

I can only hope, along with millions of others, that the National Health Service is fully supported by Government, and that those in need of urgent and vital medical help can get it on time, so they can continue with their lives.  We all need help from time to time, so don’t mess about with the Nation’s greatest asset – our health service.  The last thing patients facing a worrying operation want is to play Health Service Roulette.

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