Time for an NHS rant

Sometimes this little ranty person appears and has a stomp about. That’s the way I feel today; in fact, it has been brewing for a few days. My experiences of the NHS go back over many years and come from personal stays in hospital, local GP cover at health centres, visiting relatives and parishioners in hospital and being with people who are dying. In addition, I spent a vivid few days and nights working as a nursing auxiliary. (I was trying to boost the family budget.) That last foray into the world of hospital work was pretty terrifying and exhausing. My training was minimal, yet at times I was left to look after 30 patients in a Nightingale ward. Nightmare.

Before getting back to the rant I have to say that much of my contact with the NHS has been positive, though there has been  significant cause for grumble, particularly with regard to hospital staff and their lack of attention to patients needing help. I can understand why nurses who as a rule are university trained, feel that their job should not be to empty bedpans and feed elderly and incapable geriatrics. Indeed, health care workers (like the old auxiliaries) are being employed at the rate of 3 to 1 qualified nurses. It makes me uneasy to think that health workers are left to deal with the hands-on nursing like washing, toileting, eating….  whilst the qualified nurses are more paper-orientated and responsible for complicated procedures, tests and medication.

Nursing to me, is about keeping a patient comfortable, with the basics of life provided for in a caring and dignified manner. The stories we have been hearing have been about the exact opposite, and doctors have been forced to “write-up” their patients for water to drink. I suppose I have poor memories of dying parents and I therefore worry about myself and my friends needing hospital care. The government seems to allocate more and more funds, yet the basics have shifted so that people are cases needing treatment rather than individuals who need care.

The sad thing is that I can rant, as have lots of others in newspapers and blogs; but what I want to know is when will it get better?

There – that’s my rant over. What do you think?

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9 Responses to Time for an NHS rant

  1. Ray Barnes says:

    So often Freda, what you write makes me think I wish I had said that, or I wish I’d written on this subject before Freda got there.
    I’ve spent quite a bit of time in hospital as a patient and as a visitor and have watched the vast improvement in the mechanics of diagnosis matched equally by the decline in patient care over a number of years.
    When my 103 year old mother was dying in December 2008, she received excellent and really quite tender care from the senior nursing staff on the ward. Far less attentive nursing from junior nurses and almost total indifference to her needs from the various auxilliary staff.
    She was blind, had a leaking heart valve, had a ‘pinned’ broken hip and pneumonia.
    Yet she was left without assistance to drink (she was far beyond eating) and was unable to see any drink left for her – I should add she was also more than 90% deaf.
    Nothing would have saved her life at that stage, nor would she or any of us wanted that for her, but her last days could and should have been so much more comfortable.

  2. Dianne says:


    I don’t know what the solution is either. So many are unemployed, but I suppose they haven’t considered nursing? When David was hospitalized in June, I was there everyday and checking on him. Without me, he would have had a much worse time, but he probably would not have known about it as he can’t remember any of it.

    Family are important if it involves health care or education it seems.

  3. Liz Gibson says:

    I agree with your rant Freda, and Ray’s comment adds to that. But having just come from taking the funeral of Martyn’s aunt I want to share a good news story. His aunt spent her last few weeks in Edinburgh’s Western General, a place which I have heard both praised and criticised. Apparently the care was brilliant and very personally focussed. The description I was given made it sound as good as any hospice.
    We do need to keep the subject on the agenda though because there are too many people that do not have the care they need and should be able to expect.

  4. LC says:

    Since my stroke I have not been able to be with my 92-year-old mother in recent hospitalizations (USA). We were blessed to have her loving niece stay with her. And the hospital staff, doctors, registered nurses, aides and technicians have been kind and attentive.

    Mother decided less than a week ago to discontinue dialysis. Her choice at this time is to stay in her own apartment and to forego further hospitalizations and doctors’ visits. The day after her stopping dialysis, she was admitted to a hospice program. which includes palliative care but not 24-hour nursing.

    Our next step in the next few days most likely will be to arrange for 24-hour care in her apartment. She is fortunate in having resources so that she has choices. Ray’s experience is too common from what I observed when helping an elderly friend prior to his death. I don’t thinkchoosing not to get sick and don’t get old are realistic options options.

  5. Lyn says:

    Unfortunately much of “medical practice” is focused on “cure.” Sometimes medical professionals to not see beyond the need to be successful in “saving” a life, even to the point of being neglectful toward those who are considered “incurable.” Palliative medicine, that which provides comfort vs cure, is still not the norm. Sadly.

    Then add the horrific budget problems facing every entity, and corners are being cut in personnel, supplies, anywhere that a cut can occur. I don’t know where it will end. It is certainly not a hopeful picture.

    Your rant is warranted. I join you.

  6. Mina says:

    Unfortunately a decision was made some 20 years ago to turn nursing from a vocation into a profession requiring high levels of academic qualifications. This precluded many non-academically minded young people from entering nursing as they did not want / could not do the necessary studying. In this way nursing was deprived of a whole generation of caring people. They are now looking at this situation and realising their mistake but what they will do about it I simply don’t know. It is strange that in one hospital you can have an excellent caring ward right next to a failing one. What are the Clinical Nurse Managers in charge of these wards doing? One good one and one bad one side by side so what is the next tier of management doing. Oh, dear I am now ranting too.

  7. Anita says:

    It is a bit frightening to think of being in the power of nurses without empathy, in prison like condition, without adequate water.
    More motivation to get fit and healthy, I suppose.

  8. Jimmy says:

    Old Travellers used to be terrified of going into Hospital. I used to think they were just set in their ways and needed to be more trusting. But it’s gradually dawning on me that there is the possibility they knew something I didn’t know – perhaps about human nature, perhaps that some care because they don’t care.
    A £1m machine can’t hold an old person’s hand and ask them if they want a drink of water.

  9. freda says:

    Thanks for your comments, they have made me feel I am not alone. Jimmy, your comment about a £1m machine is so poignant. Thank you for plain common sense everybody, and for the good news stories.

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