Patrick Christys: We have a broken NHS… we have to acknowledge that it’s not fit for purpose

Patrick Christys
Patrick Christys

Handymen will be sent to fix draughty and mouldy homes in a bid to reduce pressure on overstretched hospitals. The teams – a collaboration between the NHS and councils

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Our NHS is getting creative. It’s trying to do what people in middle management call – blue sky thinking. They’re going out of the box…

I’m honestly not making this up – this is a real thing that’s potentially about to happen.

Handymen will be sent to fix draughty and mouldy homes in a bid to reduce pressure on overstretched hospitals. The teams – a collaboration between the NHS and councils – combine GPs, nurses and social workers and…plumbers?

Town halls would pay for any repair work, not the health service. NHS England wants all areas of the country to provide a comprehensive service by next April. The work may involve fitting handrails to prevent falls among the elderly or cleaning mould from walls to improve breathing problems among children. Maintenance units could also fix leaks or seal draughts.

Now, part of me genuinely thinks this is a good idea! I mean, it is a bit, isn’t it – things like damp, poor disabled facilities in the home, drafts…these do make vulnerable people ill and they do end up in hospital. Our hospitals are supposedly overwhelmed, I mean, when are they not, but they are. Ambulance waiting times are up, GP appointments are like hens’ teeth…if we can sort out issues with vulnerable people’s homes that gives them a better quality of life and less chance of getting sick then I’m all for it.

There is a bit of an issue though – how do we pay for it? Apparently home repairs are going to come out of local councils’ budgets so, basically, that means more tax doesn’t it. All of a sudden now, you’re getting taxed twice, aren’t you – one to pay for the health and social care budget, then again to pay for…well…essentially the health and social care budget. So there’s that, but there’s another NHS creativity project taking place – although I fear it’ll be a similar creativity project to the one carried out by Frankenstein.

There are plans to scrap tens of millions of “unnecessary” hospital follow-up appointments. Unnecessary is kind of in the eye of the beholder isn’t it – what an NHS pencil pusher may regard as unnecessary, Shelley from Number 42 might regard as being absolutely vital for her personal health.

Health service leaders in England are finalising a radical plan under which hospital consultants will undertake far fewer outpatient appointments and instead perform more surgery to help cut the NHS backlog and long waits for care that many patients experience. It's called the ‘Elective Recovery Plan’.

Under the plan patients who have spent time in hospital would be offered only one follow-up consultation in the year after their treatment rather than the two, three or four many get now.

One bright idea for still making sure that people can get a follow up appointment if they want one is by allowing them to use an app to let their hospital know that they are sufficiently worried about their health that they want to see a doctor sooner than their next scheduled appointment.

I mean, it’s a bit of a joke this. They We might as well just cut to the chase and make old people perform their own surgeries. A call handler could talk them through it over the phone. This is just sweeping stuff under the carpet.

We have a broken NHS, an unworkable system and when we’re having to resort to putting draft blockers up in peoples homes and making them use technology they can’t understand to beg for a check-up…we have to acknowledge that it’s not fit for purpose.