7 Ways of Fixing the NHS

Note for USA readers: the National Health Service is a very large bureaucratic health-care system that was started in Britain in the late 1940s as a way of providing medical care to everyone that was free at the point of delivery. In other words, in Britain, when you get sick or hurt nobody asks for your credit card.

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There are many problems with this, not least the gob-smacking cost of it (c £106 billion per year) which comes out of our taxes – the NHS is very far from actually being free. However, when my late husband had lung cancer ten years ago, he had treatment from the NHS worth around $1 million at today\’s rates and we didn\’t have to pay a penny or sell our house or go bankrupt. I am enormously grateful for that.

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You can think of the NHS as a bit like a police force. You could have crime insurance and the insurance could pay for you to employ your own bodyguards or detectives from a specialised company when there\’s a crime wave in your area or when your child\’s just been kidnapped. Or you could pay more taxes and there would be a State-operated and run police-force which would protect you without you having to pay them directly. Alas, demand for both socialised policing and socialised medicine seems to be effectively infinite.

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I was thinking about all this while sitting next to my mother in a large NHS hospital after she had a mild stroke. Any kind of sleep or rest was impossible and she was terribly agitated by all the noise and activity. I\’ve written about the scandals going on at the moment. So here are some ideas for improvement.

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1.  Find another way to attract nurses\’ attention apart from beeping. The number of little boxes on stands with flashing lights going beep in a four bay ward is staggering.  A nurse eventually rushes in, presses buttons, checks patient, sighs, presses more buttons. The beeping stops and the nurse rushes off. Three minutes later the beeping starts again. A particularly aggressive beeper was attached to a little sensor on a patient\’s thumb to check how much oxygen was in her blood. Every time it slipped from her skinny thumb, the alarm went off.

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2.  People like my mother are a nightmare for hospitals. She had a stroke, she needed immediate medical care and she got it. But she has Alzheimer\’s and vascular dementia, keeps waking up frightened, not knowing where she is, hates the hospital, hates the busy nurses walking around, hates the hospital food and refers to any non-Caucasian (and often considerably sicker) patients as \”Filthy\” because she\’s lost most of her social inhibitions. The Caribbean and Indian nurses are incredibly patient and understanding, but find it understandably a little wearing. I find it very embarassing. Maybe UKIP could set up some immigrant-free hospitals? Good luck staffing them.

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3.  Round up all senior NHS managers, if necessary at gunpoint. Yes, especially former Communist Sir David Nicholson,  He Who Must Not be Sacked of mid-Staffordshire hospital scandal fame. Lock them in a room with no water, food or toilets. Present them with ten 30 page folders of forms to fill in while answering phones, talking to anxious relatives and taking difficult, unco-operative old ladies to the toilet and back at a snail\’s pace. None of them can leave until all the forms are done.

Bring in fully-rested inspectors to check they\’ve done it right and make them do the whole lot again if they haven\’t. They have to go through all this every single time they introduce a new form for nurses to fill in.

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4.  When you do feed the Senior Management, give them hospital food.

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5.  Let them watch nurses being handed wads of money while they get a grudging couple of quid. Then tell them half of them will be fired tomorrow to save money.

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6.  Obviously all NHS managers should spend a year as a Health Care Assistant first. All of them should spend at least one week every  year doing the job again at the worst performing hospital they deal with. No, of course they can\’t have private healthcare.

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7.  While you\’re at it, also sue the makers of the bins labelled \”quiet-closing bin.\” Or lock them for 48 hours in an echo chamber surrounded by their quiet-closing bins, clanging shut every thirty seconds or so. Whichever.

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One kind Asian nurse looked at me and said \”In my country, much less paper. We say: more paper, less care.\” Then she shrugged and went back to filling in the forms, while the beepers beeped and the quiet-closing bins clanged around her.

Penryn Mayday Festival is back again! Hooray!

Wonderful news – noble people like Pip Carlton-Barnes and the Glasney Greenspace Regeneration Project have organised Mayday in Penryn after it looked as if it wouldn\’t happen!

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Here goes: May Bank Holiday, May 6th at 10.00 am (yes, a bit horribly early, but never mind) there will be Maypole Dancing by Dance Confidence Cornwall and a May Princess Parade – all happening at the Penryn Memorial Gardens as usual.

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These events are great fun to go to – so make sure you go. Will the Maypole Knitting event take place? This is what happens when Maypole Dancing gets out of hand. Maybe not as there\’s a proper dance group doing it. We shall see. If I possibly can I will be there.

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However they take a lot of organising and so if you know of an event near you – go and help them organise it!

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There will be more news about the event on the 6th May on Facebook – PenrynMaydayFestival.