Our health system needs to be looked at as a whole

A wise man once said, '˜there comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river.

Monday, 31st October 2016, 7:50 pm

‘We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.’

Desmond Tutu’s words couldn’t ring truer when we look to the ever increasing problems our country’s health system faces and what must be done to radically improve the way it operates.

And today we once again see how crippling pressures on the ambulance service and Queen Alexandra Hospital’s A&E department are failing people in need.

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The cases of poor 89-year-old Doreen Mayhew and 94-year-old Ada Cox make for difficult reading.

We do know all too well that one of the big reasons for QA’s A&E crisis is the number of people turning up for help, who don’t necessarily require emergency treatment and who could go to a walk-in centre or seek the assistance of their local GP instead.

Though that in itself is easier said than done – as we’ve reported on occasions before the demand for appointments and the length of time it takes to be seen.

Then there’s of course the issue of ‘bed-blocking’ – happening in part because of the government’s prolonged attack on resources for social care for the elderly.

What our health bosses and civic leaders need to get a grip on and tackle is the cause of the NHS’ problems.

Because all too often, it takes just one component of the organisation to fall and the rest come crashing down. Which shows how interconnected everything is.

The entire network needs to be looked at as a whole, rather than separately.

Educating people and directing them to the right place for help is just a small step that can be taken in the effort to relieve pressure on our emergency services and to ensure those who really are in the most dire circumstances are seen and treated as quickly as possible.

What everyone will agree on is that action must be taken, sooner rather than later, to ensure there’s an end to the experiences of people like Doreen and Ada – and more lives are not thrown into jeopardy.