Sitting down to eat my evening meal while listening to the news headlines about the constantly struggling and failing NHS has become somewhat of a weekly routine. A week, sometimes a couple of days can't go by without some negative headline associated to the NHS being broadcasted on the BBC 6'0 clock news. Whatever you call it, a humanitarian crisis or not. We can all agree the NHS is struggling.
I'm only 18. I've got my whole life ahead of me. Yet part of me doesn't want to live on till I'm 80 with the current state of the NHS. I don't want to live in fear, worried that my safety and future will be put in jeopardy due to the postcode I resign at. The thought of dying because I didn't get the help I needed quick enough due to someone being seen in A&E with a cold over saving my life from a fatal heart attack, fills my stomach with dread and anxiety.
What do I know anyway? I'm only young. What do I know about the NHS? Not a lot, your right. But what I do know is that they are an invaluable service which has saved both my parent's life's and is still a service I rely on to this very day. Just like a vast majority of the population do or will do at some point in their life's. What really hurts, is seeing the NHS staff ( which includes everyone from surgeons, doctors, nurses to porters, cleaners and administrative staff) being pushed to absolute breaking point despite them trying their absolute hardest and working around the clock, 365 days a year to keep the most valuable thing we have in this country going.
Sitting and thinking about the NHS daily, is pretty stressful and I don't even work there so I would dread to think what it is like for those who work in the service. I've tried ignoring it. Changing the channels when they've mentioned it on the TV but it doesn't make the problem go away, ignoring the problem only makes things worse.
Seeing the NHS at breaking point hurts a lot. I think to myself what if someone I knew or loved needed their emergency care tomorrow, and they just couldn't get it because of the demand at their local hospital resulting in them having to travel further field and potentially being put in dangerous, life-threatening conditions, due to a lack of appropriate care.
Instead of letting these thoughts go around and around my head one more time, like a stuck record, I've come up with this nonsense, no shit guide to saving our NHS. I've outlined what I think should be done to help improve the NHS and assist the standard of care patients can receive, as well as improve and more importantly address the ever-growing demand for the service. Who knows who is going to read this? Maybe someone important? Who knows? All I hope is that it gives you some food for thought and gets a paramount conversation started.
#1 PISSING ABOUT WITH THE SERVICES? FACE A FINE!
If you rock up to A&E with a broken nail or if you go to your doctors about a simple cold etc. Which can be proven to be nothing serious and actually could have been treated at home. You should get a fine. The NHS is free ( Yes, you pay for it in taxes, I know that) in this country. Which I think an awful lot of people actually take for granted. Being able to go to A&E with a severe injury or pain and getting treated without paying up front is a luxury. But that doesn't mean you can abuse the service. They can't fix your broken finger or toe with magic. There's no secret cure for stomach bugs that doctors can offer. All you are doing is wasting their time where someone with a more serious problem could be treated.
If you don't abuse the service you have nothing to worry about, you will never get fined. If you do abuse the service however and have to pay a fine, that's surely going to stop people doing it again and discourage others from doing the same. And if you don't have the money for a potential fine you will think seriously about going. These funds collected should go back into supporting the NHS services.
#2 THINK ITS FUNNY PRANK CALLING THE NHS? YOU WON'T BE LAUGHING WHEN YOU GET A FINE!
This is very similar to the last point. Misusing the service by ringing them up because you don't know what to eat for dinner or your cat's been sick and you don't know what you do, isn't a joke! In that time it's taken for you to call and them to answer, the call handler could have answered a real emergency call and sent an ambulance on its way to a fatal RTC.
If the call is stupid, pointless and clearly wasting their time, they should be getting a fine. The money collected from the fines should go back into the NHS, and hopefully, it would also discourage others doing the same in future. Less pressure on call handlers means that the people who really need the help get the help swiftly, without putting their life's in danger. If you don't misuse the service and ring up the NHS when you don't need to, you don't need to worry because you will never have to pay.
#3 BETTER MENTAL HEALTH EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS
I can and will do a whole post about how the mental health services should be improved in the future, but I'll wait to see how this post goes down first, though. One of the points that are going to be mentioned in both posts is having better mental health education in schools. From the age of five, mental health education should be a mandatory part of the education system. It should start of basic (obviously if they are only five) talking about the importance of talking about their feelings, improving self-esteem and mindfulness. Letting the children have time in the day to practice breathing techniques.
As they get older, they should be told in depth about the different mental illnesses. What they are, symptoms, how to get help and how to support friends or family going through them. If children are taught this in an education environment, they are more likely to remember it and see it as important. At the end of the day it is important as maths and English because you can be a whizz at these two skills, have a fantastic job, but if you can't leave the house due to chronic anxiety, it's going to have an adverse effect on the economy. With a steep rise in the number of people reporting to A&E with mental health problems, by educating people young, I think this will help them better understand what to do in hard times and reduce the risk of them reaching breaking point and needing to go to A&E.
#4 THE SELF CHECKER APP ON EVERY PHONE
We live in a modern day, technology obsessed society where I can track my heart rate, menstrual cycle and steps all in one app. Which sits nicely alongside my moon cycle tracking app and VR games. You get the point I'm making. Technology is huge. The vast majority of people have a smartphone. This number is only ever going to increase. I think we're missing a goldmine of an opportunity here. It costs nothing to go on the NHS website, research your symptoms and see what the most likely cause is. But people don't do that. People go on all kinds of websites and end up believing they have the highly unlikeliest of illnesses and go to A&E to get help for something they di not have.
By installing an NHS app on every new smartphone will encourage patients to look up their symptoms on a reliable source. By typing in their symptoms, they should get the most likely answer to what they have, followed by a list of advice, whether that be to see a doctor or pop to the local pharmacy, etc. It should tell us what symptoms to look out for which may indicate a more serious illness. By doing this, it should reduce the number of people going to A&E thus lessen the demand for services.
#5 HEALTH ASSISTANTS WHO OFFER ADVICE IN A&E/ GPS WAITING ROOMS TO ASSES CONDITIONS & OFFER ADVICE IF PROBLEM CAN BE TREATED AT HOME
In larger doctors surgeries and A&E departments, there should be health assistants, who are medically trained and can call people to a little private room to see why they are there today. If they are there for an illegitimate reason that's great, they can go back and wait for their appointment, but maybe they've only there for a cold or a cough.
If this is the case, they can offer advice on what they can do to treat themselves at home and what medication they can pick up from over the counter. They should provide a quick contingency plan and send them on their way. This will help reduce the number of patients doctors see in a day who don't need to be there thus helping them see patients who really need help quicker. This could be considered invasive but if it's done privately and confidentiality, there isn't a problem. Also if you don't like it, you are less likely to want to visit your doctor surgery for minor problems, which consequently
is also beneficial for the NHS.
I could go on and on. I have so many other ideas which I think will help reduce the demands and strains on the NHS. I don't want to see the NHS struggle any longer. I can't bare to imagine what it will be like in 10, 20 or 30 years time if nothing is done.
I recognise that these solutions have their problems of their own, but until you undertake pilot studies to see them in action, you can't really assess their success rate. The month where I don't have to listen to any negative headlines about the NHS is the month I know things are starting to change for the better.
I would love to hear your opinions and suggestions on how we can save our NHS in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, as always X