I was saddened to read yesterday about a doctor apologising on Twitter for “third world conditions” in the hospital where we works. Separately, tens of thousands of non-urgent NHS operations and procedures in England may be deferred until 31 January, due to winter pressures.
When health secretary Aneurin Bevan launched the NHS at Park Hospital in Manchester (today known as Trafford General Hospital) in July 1948, it was the climax of a hugely ambitious plan to bring good healthcare to all. For the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists are brought together under one umbrella organisation to provide services that are free for all at the point of delivery.
One only has to look at the rapid advancement in the Triage Service at Camp Bastion and the survival rates of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with previously fatal triple amputee injuries to understand the leaps we have made in medicine and treatment.
Now however the NHS is facing the biggest challenge in its existence. The reasons for the service reaching this crisis point are numerous but include an ageing and ever increasing population, lifestyle factors and rising costs.
Diseases such as obesity and all the related medical issues were unheard of in the 1940s. The NHS is on its knees and any government will struggle to make our medical services work under their current format. Perhaps it is time to consider a means tested free service or a link with private services. Whatever we do there needs to be a very brave overhaul and an entire rethink.