I bumped into a friend and neighbour of mine over the Easter holidays. This would not be remarkable but for the fact that he recently suffered a stroke and had been in hospital for two months. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see him. He told me he was having six months rehabilitation with weeks spent in hospital, and weekends at home.
Then last weekend that joy turned into anger. A mutual friend of ours told me that the Trust concerned was considering sending him home for good because of funding shortages. This despite the fact that his rehabilitation has barely started and his partner is disabled. What sort of unjust and uncaring society do we live in, I asked myself? What sort of planet does his Trust inhabit?
This afternoon I did a pass of the NHS Future Forum website and hovered over the conversations and comments submitted by clinicians, NHS managers and patients. It is interesting stuff, not least because of the number of patients quite rightly pointing out (in varying degrees of frustration) that the Forum is not the inclusive listening exercise we have been told it would be.
Ministers, professional associations, and others trade arguments in strange languages and I wait for it to come down to earth, often half asleep, listening to The Today programme.
As a quick example I cut and paste the following by one of the Future Forum members writing about emerging messages from the exercise:
‘These are based on ensuring multi-professional, clinically led consortia with a breadth of representation based on competency. These should be supported by a much wider network of clinicians and patients to ensure the highest quality of safe patient care giving the best value for money. However, where possible, this should be by developing integrated care pathways with competition used to drive quality and choice about the services and care that patients want.’
I mean, can anyone truly tell me what this means (and I am supposed to know this stuff)?
I do fear that the NHS debate has entered the realms of ‘Wag the Dog’ in which spin doctors are engaged in a fierce make-believe battle which is becoming more and more detached from the struggles facing patients everyday.
But endeavour to make a difference we must and if you wish to make your views known on broader aspects of the NHS reforms – and not just research which is our preserve – then I strongly recommend you keep in touch with our gallant colleagues at National Voices.