Last week, I had the opportunity to view and experience at first hand, work at the coalface in a busy NHS hospital.
Sent by my GP to the casualty department of the Alexander Hospital in Redditch, I was able to view for the next three days, the 24 hour working of a local county infirmary. The first impression was of a very hard working staff, driven by continuous demand.
The second was the enormous amount of cost involved in handling cases presenting with a wide range of emergencies. Thirdly, the amount of training that staff involved, have had to undergo to be able to treat patients swiftly and efficiently. This in itself takes time and money, the only source for such funds coming from the taxpayer.
It is not possible to judge the whole of the NHS on the experience of one patient over a three day time period. However, the infrastructure is there, and supports a wide-held view by fair minded people, that this country has one of the finest health services in the world.
I was able to witness at first hand the traumas and emergencies experienced daily by casualty departments, and medical assessment units. These were handled in a very calm and professional way, bringing comfort and pain relief to many.
Sometimes, when viewing the media, one can get the impression that NHS workers are always complaining of their lot. I did not find that this was the case, moreover, without exception, every worker in the hospital that I spoke to, enjoyed the job that they were doing. Some wanted to take further training to progress. Yes, they moaned about pay and all sorts of rules and regulations that they thought could be dispensed with or improved, but they had job satisfaction, and that in life, is so important.
The pressure I observed on the front line suggests that further investment is very necessary in the National Health Service, for as life span increases, so will the demand for medical assistance.
This will inevitably be costly, for not only will additional hospitals be required, but trained staff to provide the services needed. Now that takes time, so planning should be underway now. if standards are to be maintained.
Nevertheless, I don’t wish to go again.
* Russell Luckock is chairman of Birmingham pressings firm AE Harris