How can a government get facts and figures so wrong?
Fact: the NHS has functioned all the way through because of good will. Even stuffy consultants give everything they can to the NHS. The patient alwys comes first and many hard-pressed consultants work long hours and come in to the hospital when they are not on call – they are available 24/7.
I’m on call this weekend. At a moment’s notice from Friday morning to Monday at 9 a.m. I can be called in for an emergency operation or even to assess a patient. I have a registrar who is a professional surgeon who sleeps in the hospital all weekend. He will be off on Monday morning – I won’t be. I’m doing a clinic on Monday morning even if I have been up all night.
On Tuesday I’m on call again. Whether I’m phoned throughout the night or in operating I still have to work the normal 9-5 during the week. Most people don’t realise that consultants don’t get the next day off when they’re on call. Even when we aren’t on call we may be called upon to deal with our patients – in hours or out of hours. I've been doing that as a consultant neurosurgeon for thirty years - believe me I know.
Disparaging remarks from politicians (like Hunt) do nothing for NHS morale and morale is what the NHS depends upon – it certainly isn’t the tiers of corporate thinking managers that take the blood clots out of peoples brains at 2 a.m. It’s a full team of surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, porters and ancillary staff. They are all people of high integrity and a heartfelt wish to help the sick patient.
It may be true that there is a higher mortality rate at weekends. This is not because consultants don’t cover the work – all we do is a team effort and you have to pay for the whole team or there is no show! So if staffing has anything to do with it (which I doubt) it’s staffing across the board not just consultants. I can’t operate without my team. If I want to do a case out of hours, I have to ring the anaesthetist and negotiate. I have to inform theatre and wait around until an emergency theatre is available. I have to field the calls from the nurses who have to be called in to do the specialised assisting for the kind of stuff I do.
It isn’t just about money. It’s the logistics of planning a whole 7 day week with rotas and shifts. You would have to pay 2/7ths more to provide the service. It can’t be done unless they increase funding by 2/7ths can it? Any man in the street can understand those figures, cant they?
Will the government fund it? They made the plans and now surely they should pay to implement them? They can’t and they won’t. IMHO this whole thing is a smokescreen by a government who wants to bring about the downfall of the NHS and replace it with a pay-for-service system with insurers suddenly becoming top dog.
Our poor NHS. Bevan would turn in his urn!