Nearly two weeks ago, I attended a council meeting as part of my university degree coursework. The meeting was titled 'Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny', so basically a three and a half hour opportunity for the councilors on Sheffield's health and well-being board to scrutinise every possible flaw in last year's performance and development by NHS Trusts and the ambulance service operating in the South Yorkshire area.

As a first year who's never really been to an official meeting before, especially not three and a half hours of presenting jargon filled quality accounts to a room full of councilors in a small stuffy room, this was quite an eye-opening experience. I went in optimistically, hoping to put my shorthand skills and attention span to the test. I did ok. Unintelligible notes and a bladder on the brink of explosion, but ok.

The general consensus of the meeting was that the Sheffield health and social departments (Yorkshire Ambulance Service, NHS teachings hospital, the children's hospital and the health and social care department) are performing well in comparison to other NHS Trusts across the country, but need to drastically rethink a lot of things if they want to improve further. There needs to be less emphasis on statistics and percentages, and more emphasis on seeing patients as people and providing them with the fundamental needs they're required and entitled to. 
That includes the ambulance service getting their act together and training staff so that there is more than one fully qualified medic in every ambulance, so they can treat patients quickly but effectively then go help someone else equally as well.

My sister works at Doncaster Royal Infirmary during her placement periods for her degree, and she says the lack of staff training is an strain that's evident every day. It takes it toll on staff and patients alike, because the latter are often confused and frustrated by the frail service while the former are working hectic 13 hour shifts that are mentally and physically draining. There are noticeable tensions almost all day every day, there are increasing reports of verbal abuse and physical assaults to both staff and patients, and the waiting times for assessments and treatments is slowly growing.

NHS is a national institution that many people in Britain take pride in, despite the constant shit the service is given in the media about it's treatment of patients, staff abilities and the threat of privatization. It's a shame to see it crumbling before our very eyes, because more and more people are relying on its service for increasingly complex conditions and support.

Popular Posts