Dear Editor,

What is the answer to the NHS crisis?

It’s not just a case of more nurses and more beds that will fix the crisis. It’s far more complex than that. A lot of hospitals could do with support from health care assistants who, if they are good at their job, hugely support nursing staff. Unfortunately, health care assistants earn under £20,000 pa and are expected to operate on shift patterns. Why would anyone do that for £20,000 pa unless your aim was to get into nursing, which a lot of HCAs do if they are not put off by hard work, long hours and bad pay.

Practically every hospital in the country works with external private nursing homes and social services to move clinically fit patients out of hospital beds, but again there is not enough support from social services – and nursing homes can and do refuse to take on “difficult” patients of which the taxpayer can pay up to £4,000 per week per patient for their care!

In some European countries families are obligated to provide assistance and responsibility of the clinically fit patients who are removed from the hospital so that beds can be freed up. Perhaps hospitals should all have an onsite recovery home and allow clinically fit patients to reside for specific period of time.

Covid deaths picture
Could apprenticeships and more university places for medical students help revitalise staffing levels for the NHS? (Radar)

Staff in general should have more support to stand up for themselves and say no to patients whose behaviours can be extremely demanding and downright uncalled for. Staff can be verbally and physically abused by patients, but police don’t get called in and patients or their families can get away with abusing staff unnecessarily.

Why are we not as a country offering medical degree courses at our universities for free to our children to study medicine, nursing, physiotherapy, paramedic? There seems to be places available for international students in the UK to study medicine – I have just checked Surrey University’s website and they do this.

I know many hospitals over the past ten years or more are given government funding to send some members of staff (from every single hospital in the UK) to India and Pakistan to recruit overseas junior doctors, which is great for them, but the cost that the government spend on these visits could be used towards our own UK students. Perhaps something for our Conservative government to consider going forward! It’s not like the government did not see this crisis coming – even before COVID, it was rearing its ugly head and perhaps now something will be done.

We all assume that the NHS is proving all our healthcare services, but the NHS is paying external providers throughout the UK to do this, so are we already halfway to private medical care?

I really believe that with major government funding, a complete overhaul of the NHS and how it operates going forward with less bureaucracy, better salaries, apprenticeships for school leavers and more university places for medical students in our universities – and perhaps a large miracle thrown in for good measure – the NHS can get back to being brilliant again.

But staff are exhausted, some have PTSD from the COVID pandemic and all, including the magnificent ambulance crews, are burnt out and waiting for a huge crash that may be just around the corner.

I guess, for me, I hope I never have to end up in hospital (who does anyway?) but I am going to focus on being healthy, exercising more (it is the New Year after all) and cutting down on my alcohol consumption.

Wishing NHS staff all the best.

Winn Rose

* WHAT'S been your experience of local hospitals lately? Have you been caught up in delays at A&E departments? Can more be done to help the under-pressure NHS? Have your say below, or send a letter to the News & Mail, via [email protected].

For more readers' letters and local comment, see the 12 January edition of the newspaper, in shops now.