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Gale's View - 16/01/2019

January 16th 2019


In the last year for which figures are available ( 2016/ 2017) about thirty five thousand people presented themselves at hospital Accident and Emergency services ten or more times.  That figure will certainly have increased during the past year and it is an indication of the number of patients who attend A&E who have experienced neither an accident nor an emergency. If, therefore, hospitals are criticised for long waiting times we need to look not just at throwing still more money at the system but at the underlying reasons why so many people are in hospital when they have no need to be there at all.

The multi- million pound investment in enhanced facilities at both the QEQM in Margate and the William Harvey in Ashford, coupled with the provision of an on- site GP presence is designed to, and hopefully will, reduce the winter pressures on unnecessary hospital admissions but it is the NHS long- term plan announced a week ago, coupled with the largest cash increase in the history of the health service, that is designed to create a world class provision truly fit for the 21st Century.

Over the next five years the NHS budget will certainly increase by £20.5 billion compared with today but it is in how that money is spent that the secret of success will lie.

The focus of the plan is directed to prevention rather than just cure with £4.5 billion being invested in primary and community care helping to promote healthier lifestyles. It cannot be right that, as we live longer, we should  encourage irresponsibility and then expect the NHS to pick up the pieces.

Through the use of modern and advanced genomics, through better prevention, detection, treatment and recovery from serious diseases we know that people can live not just longer but healthier lives. This is not a ‘sticking plaster’ exercise. It is a serious commitment to a wholesale transformation of the way that we ‘ do medicine’.

The latest push- button ‘  round robin’ mailed out to Members of Parliament in the names of people who quite clearly have not studied the plan launched by the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, refers to ‘ waiting a very long time for A&E ....and for Cancer Care” . If waiting a little longer with, say, a broken finger means that medical staff can devote vital time to someone who has a life- threatening  condition then that seems to me to be a sensible priority. I am not aware, though, of a single constituent who has had to wait ‘ a very long time’ for treatment for cancer. 

Nevertheless it is of course important - and this is the thrust of the long- term programme -  that diagnostics and treatments are the best  so that survival rates are improved still further. That is surely why one of our leading charities, Cancer Research UK, has welcomed this ‘ ambitious plan’. 


Contrary to the impression that has been given the funding does make provision for more doctors and more nurses and while it is the case that in the short term some staff will have to continue to be recruited  from other countries the long- term aim is self sufficiency.  Matt Hancock has also indicated that his Social Care Green Paper, due imminently, will  complement the plans for the NHS and again help to keep an ageing population healthy in the community and out of hospital.


It is surely time for some campaigning organisations to stop trying to frighten people and to recognise initiatives that, both through funding and through a sense of purpose and direction will take us, in healthcare, from where we are to where we need to be.

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