"Vested Interest"

(as the patient),

I have used the NHS service for most of my life and support its principles as a means of free care at the point of need. Indeed some of my family knew Mr Bevin as they were part of the original Fabian movement and like me they support the need for a NHS. However, society has changed since the NHS was founded and I feel that like other nationalized industries it is open to abuse by those who use the service and those that provide it.

Since the age of 18, I have seen what I consider to be the steady decline in both the system of care and knowledge by those who profess the highest standards for their patients.

I notice today that the Royal College of Nurses are going to pass a vote of no confidence in the Health Minister. As a patient I would like the opportunity of passing a vote of no confidence in their members to provide that service.

I know that many will say that this is due to the fact that there have been decreases in budgets which has resulted in increased stress levels as there are less people to the job. In some cases this is true and there are dedicated Nurses out there who do their best for the patients. However in my opinion there is a hard core (I would like to say a minority) who I don’t feel provide the level of care you should be able to expect.

I have recently come out of hospital having undergone extensive surgery and am now recuperating at home. This is the second time that I have been admitted to a hospital ward in the last 4 months and I have experienced conditions in A and E plus 3 wards (I believe I should not have been admitted the second time, which would have saved their budget and my employer from trying to find someone with the knowledge base to replace me).

I was under the impression that gross mismanagement of the wards and lack of communication between different professionals was the remit of one very dysfunctional hospital, who I believe had problems with recruitment and maintaining their staff and therefore used "Carers" who appeared to take on some of the medical duties of the nurses but in reality I experienced very poor standards of professionalism and I don’t believe the staff had received adequate training.

Having watched the recent "Dispatches" programme on television, I no longer think that this is the case. What worried me was that, what "Dispatches" showed was the treatment of elderly patients who were considered "bedblockers" and it’s my opinion that this attitude was evident in all three wards I had the misfortune to experience. This suggests to me that the NHS needs a bit of healthy competition in order to deliver even a tolerable service.

I therefore support the Health Minister in his need to "evolve" the service, for the good of the patients. Should this not come to be, I will be lobbying for my National Insurance contributions to be put into a separate fund so that if I do need further invasive surgery I will be able to access this and make an informed choice as to the provider.

Should this not happen and I am forced to use the NHS hospital again I will ask my consultant if I can have the operation and then go home and provide my own care; I believe it would in the long run be safer and more efficient.

I would say that on the whole medicine has made significant steps forward over the last 20 years and there are some talented doctors out there. However it’s my opinion that a lot of my operations recently were unnecessary and were due to either the ignorance or lack of skill of the surgeons who treated me who I believe had limited knowledge pertaining to only their own area of expertise. Their actions have caused me complications and I think have been the cause of further surgery.

I am aware that under the new system proposed, Doctors would loose out on the training that the NHS provides however in some cases I question the standard of that training; especially when as someone without a medical background I am able to access information from the internet and appear to have more knowledge than some in the Health service. I was prepared to be told I was wrong but in my experience it became galling to find after being told they were the professionals and there were delays that I might have been right in the first place.

In summary, I believe the NHS is a good idea but needs a massive rethink in terms of delivery by providers as well as a rethink about their training.

This reflects on who should be trained? I think there needs to be a massive rethink about how wards are run and the skills needed to manage the clinical needs of the patients and the deployment of staff.

Patient experience is vital in feeding back to those that manage (which I think should not be via remote control and based on someone who has medical knowledge) how to improve further.

If other areas of the public service are inspected regularly with very little or no notice then why not the NHS hospitals? Those hospitals which fall below the level of acceptable practice could then be helped to overcome their difficulties.

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