When did the NHS stop needing our support?
This morning, as I was driving along, I stopped to let a nurse cross the road. She was in her uniform, holding her purse and was obviously dashing from the health service building on one side of the road to the shop on the other side. However, as I stopped, a loud beep resounded from the van behind me obviously signalling his annoyance that I had dared to be nice and let someone across the road… Which I did safely, might I add!
It made me think about the NHS. I like to think that, if I see someone who works in a hospital or uniform, I would be nice to them – not because I’m horrible to everyone else – but because these are people who, day in and day out, give themselves to serve and help others. Letting them cross a busy road is the least I can do. However, I think I’m part of only a small group of people who still do this.
We have become used to the NHS being free at the point of need – which it should be, and its one thing this country is most proud of – but being free to us doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost. I know some health professionals who regularly cry at work, who build up relationships with their patients that last a lifetime, who volunteer to develop themselves in their own time, and who care so much for the wider community. But more than that, there is an ownership on us all to get it right and utilise it correctly.
We now have a generation who feel like it’s acceptable to go to A&E with a scratch, who feel like it’s okay to make an appointment and choose not to go, at the cost of the others that need one. I’m fully aware of the arguments from the other side – waiting two weeks for a GP appointment is sometimes unsatisfactory, as is arguing as to why you need to see a professional with a receptionist who doesn’t have medical qualifications. However, this is the situation that we’re in… so how do we make it better?
As well as caring for those who provide health services, why don’t we get involved and support the systems and the decisions being made locally about health? There are many ways to become involved – the first could be joining us on 24th February at our health event – or you could become a hospital trust volunteer, you could get involved in shaping local strategic decisions on how health is dealt with in the borough, or simply follow your local hospitals Twitter feed to see what they are up to. Hospitals are often in need of users to shape the work that they do – so why not become one of them?
The commitment may be large or small, but let’s not let our free NHS dwindle or suffer. Let’s get involved, make it better, make it fit for purpose and see systems change.
Ultimately, we need to do more then letting people cross the road. We need to support the system to get health services right.