Updated: Jan 14
When I am ill I want to be healed as soon as possible. I want to be assessed by a Doctor within a day of whatever issue I may have. If the Doctor finds something that needs to be explored further then I want an appointment with a specialist the next day. If the specialist identifies something that requires an operation I want that operation to take place the next day. This is it.
Unless you enjoy enduring pain then I would imagine you would feel the same. This is how it should be – no ifs, no buts. And this is not a vision of hope, love of humanity or any kind of political idealism, it is a basic necessity.
There is nothing more important than the health of our bodies, yet we have come to accept long waiting times as though there is nothing that can be done about it.
This has been going on for as long as I can remember, but due to the COVID pandemic, the monumental scale of under-investment and sound forward planning is at all of our doors. Today, if you catch COVID, and if the reports are to be believed, it will be a lottery as to whether you will survive.
Southend Hospital was overwhelmed to the point that a ‘major incident’ was declared. Requests have been made in Parliament for military assistance, the construction of community hospitals and additional hospital capacity.
COVID has been blamed and so have the so-called COVIDIOTS that take walks and sit on park benches, but I unequivocally reject the notion that this is the cause of the crisis in relation specifically to the NHS.
Before I start expounding the problems in front of our eyes, I should like to say that I am not criticising any personnel who work within the health service. If you are in the health service, my point relates as to why you have to put up with the shocking lack of political leadership, and as a result the undue stresses you have to deal with on a daily basis.
I should imagine keeping people alive is hugely stressful on its own, but having to serve an endless line of emergencies must be almost impossible task.
One of the main duties of the people in charge of any organisation is to facilitate the best possible environment for the people on the frontline to flourish.
Forecasting demand and putting in place the correct number of beds, equipment, Nurses, Doctors and Health Care Assistants is one of the basics of the job, and unfortunately those that have these decisions in their hands have not done anywhere near enough to meet our needs.
I help run an amusement park so what do I know?
When there are enormous queues at the ticket box do you think that Management stops letting potential customers from entering the park? Or do we discuss ways of being more efficient, including building more ticket boxes and exploring every avenue to become more efficient?
Our business relies and thrives on more people visiting so the more people the better, and we would continue to expand capacity as much as much as it is required.
If we get it wrong at the park then the worst case scenario is people have to wait longer. In contrast, extended waiting times in the NHS cost lives. Nothing can be more serious.
A colleague of mine who happened to have visited A&E recently, counted 24 ambulances waiting outside. Would you have wanted to have been in the 24th ambulance? I certainly wouldn’t be in my job if I delivered these results.
We seem to be wired into baying for lockdowns in the belief that we can prevent a highly contagious virus from transmitting to each other, rather than banging on the door of the Conservative government to increase capacity in our hospitals to a level where we would have the greatest chance of survival.
As Southend's cases increased all Southend Council had at its disposal was to close seafront parking. Now I am not saying that this was necessarily wrong, my point is that Southend Hospital declared a major incident and the best we can do is close car parks. Do you see how absurd things have become?
In an ideal world Southend Hospital Management would have met with the Leaders of Southend Council and informed them of exactly the financial resources they needed to deliver the capacity that was required. Southend Council would agree and Southend Hospital Management would then make it happen.
Of course those at the heart of the NHS that know what goes on would have plenty of reasons why this is not possible, however, we, as the end users and as the tax payers, are not interested. Something is blocking the people of our town and country enjoying what I believe should be the very least we should expect.
Sounds like I’m criticising both the Managers of the hospital and the leaders at Southend Council, but I am not - I do understand their hands are tied by the bureaucracy and culture they have to work within.
Ultimately it is the leaders at the very top of any organisation that set the standard and expectations. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary are ultimately accountable for facilitating the best possible environment for those on the frontline to do their jobs, and they, along with a succession of their predecessors have been fatally ineffective.
They cannot even find the money to pay those in the health service the money we all want them to have. Instead they have been robbed of the bursary!
Southend could have dealt with certain elements itself if it were so empowered. For example, I know many people that have volunteered for the NHS during the lockdown. I can tell you that all of these people would have been ecstatic to be trained up as a COVID specific health care assistants.
At a guess I feel confident there would have been thousands of people willing to put themselves forward to do their civic duty. As a volunteer myself during this period, I know I would have been one of them.
Wouldn’t it have filled the town with pride if our own people stood up and became the heroes of Southend?
This is just an example of the thought pattern required to prevent what is now the unnecessary normal. There are many barriers for this to have happened, but thinking within the confines of what has been before only leads us to the situation we have before us now.
There should never be a notion that the NHS would ever become overwhelmed. If I were in the government and we were predicting devastating waves of COVID cases then I would get everyone together who could put in place a system to ensure we are more than ready.
Johnson has had since March to launch a historic mass recruitment and mass expansion of the NHS. By any means ne