In the last few weeks there have been three letters to the Cambrian News highlighting great medical care received in Bronglais Hospital. It mirrors my own experience a few years ago when a close relative was seriously ill. Experts tell us that small hospitals can’t provide world class care, but experts aren’t always right. Trust me; I was a surgeon!
Good care requires good teamwork, and that only happens with strong leadership and a dedicated team. Those letters bear witness to outstanding senior clinical staff (nurses, doctors and others), empowering their colleagues. But the medical or surgical team is like a chain; only as strong as the weakest link. So if the porters, or stores people or cleaners don’t do their jobs well, there is no good care. The best surgeon in the world can’t operate without the right equipment, in good condition when and where it is needed.
Let’s raise some applause for them and also for the managers, a group we all too easily love to hate. They have a critical job to do. So if you are reading this and you played any part in the treatment those three patients wrote in about, thank you on behalf of everyone in Ceredigion.
Having said that, we all know that healthcare in all parts of the UK seems to be in a terrible crisis. We hear of care that wouldn’t pass muster in a developing country. It can’t be wrong to ask why we have this dreadful discrepancy; world class care on one hand and a dangerous shambles on the other.
Part of the problem is because healthcare has become a political football. And that is preventing any rational debate or sensible evolution of the NHS.
My bet is that 99 per cent of us want the same thing; good quality great value healthcare, available to all who are entitled, regardless of financial wherewithal, in a timely fashion.
As a Welsh Conservative, I want nothing less, and as a surgeon that is the system I would wish to work in.
So why our politicians need to fight over it is completely beyond me. They should be working together to achieve that goal, figuring out how we fund it, how we deliver it and how we ensure that it is available for future generations too.
Overall, the NHS isn’t working in Tory-run England, Labour-run Wales, SNP Scotland or Coalition Northern Ireland. It simply doesn’t wash to blame Welsh NHS problems on Westminster. To anyone with an open mind, it is blindingly obvious that this is not a party political issue, and if it was simple, someone would have found a solution by now. People really care about this and if any party could fix it, they would be in power for a long time.
The per capita spend across the UK nations is in reverse order to the outcomes. We now spend at or above the European average on healthcare, but with overall poorer results. So once again, an open minded person would at least consider that this is not just about money.
We need a grown-up debate on this, and those who want to turn it into hysterical mud-slinging should be excluded.
Firstly, what is healthcare? It has become far too easy to dump a lot of societal problems into “health issues”, and that certainly isn’t helped by deluding ourselves that healthcare is free.
Secondly, how do we fund it? Clearly we need some form of mutualisation so that everyone can access healthcare, but beyond that we need to seek the best solution, and not one driven by a political agenda.
Thirdly, how do we deliver it? That is particularly relevant to the large rural area we live in.
In our own small local hospital, we see examples of outstanding care. We have a right to expect that each time and every time, because it can be done. It is long overdue that we held our politicians to account. They need to work together to deliver outcomes. No more, no less.
Taking comments to Right Field on the chin...
It was good to get a bit of reaction to Right Field.
I agree with Sion Griffiths (Letters, Cambrian News,1 February) that First Past the Post is past its sell-by date. Our politics has sadly become too tribal for it to work. That is not the Conservative Party position so I may soon be an ex-chairman!
We did of course have a referendum on changing to a form of PR in 2011. Those that voted decided to keep the status quo. Turnout was low, but as Sion says, that does not discredit the result. So Sion and I may not like FPP, but we have to accept the democratic will of our fellow voters. Incidentally, I like democracy to be as close to the people as possible, so I support the Senedd’s existence.
Patrick O’Brien (Frankly Speaking, Cambrian News, 1 February) is right to highlight the problems with a governing party electing a new leader. In fact, (Conservative) party members were actually voting for their party leader. The assumption is that she or he will be able to command a majority in the House of Commons, and they will therefore become Prime Minister. Liz Truss was unable to maintain command of that majority and she had to go. That is our democracy in action. I don’t think the Labour Party do things very differently, although they do allow people to join up and vote almost immediately (entryism), which may be worse. But I agree with Patrick O’Brien; it is a flawed process.
I was pleased to surprise Gareth James (The View from The Vaults, Cambrian News, 8 February)! PR will only be better than FPP if it really is proportional. The Liberal Democrats have always championed PR, and it would be interesting to know their views on the changes coming our way in Wales. Properly functioning democracy is vital, so it is good to find some agreement between people of different political persuasions. I will try to do better on my maths in future!
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