Even more so than usual, the NHS is one of the principal political battlegrounds at a national level.
Only this week a study was released purporting to show that of all the healthcare systems in the developed world, the NHS was the cheapest per capita and top in all but one of the patient satisfaction criteria.
However, in recent times we have had the counterblast that while it provides a valuable service, the NHS is a bloated beast with too many clerical staff, and medics who, in exchange for the handsome salaries they receive, should be working at times when the public wants to see them, not when they want to see the public.
As ever, the truth is no doubt somewhere in between those two extremes, but what we can accept as fact is that the NHS faces a spending black hole if current trends continue – and this hole must be filled by either extra cash from the government or savings within the organisation itself.
And on a local level, that’s what we see in Gosport today. We’ve reported before that the town has a shortage of GPs, and one that’s getting more acute. The obvious answer would be to employ lots more, but the money is simply not there. So the local clinical commissioning group has decided to test-drive a new system for booking same-day appointments – one of the biggest bugbears in recent years – to see if things can be improved by working together and creating a same-day ‘hub’ at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
The naysayers will no doubt scoff, but they’d be wrong to do so; in fact, it shows a welcome willingness to try things out for the good of patients.
While we sincerely hope it works, we also hope that if it is shown to have little impact, or if the trouble of getting to the hospital outweighs the benefits, then it’s back to the drawing board. We’d love to see a huge pile of money headed to this area to improve people’s health, but as that is unlikely to happen, let’s applaud new ways of working – provided, of course, that it is remembered that patients and not systems are the most important thing here.