Sunday, 14 February 2016

Rog T's Cancer blog - The myth of the seven day NHS

For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, you can skip this first paragraph. I write this blog because knowledge is power and if you know what you are dealing with, you have more weapons in the locker to fight it. It is a personal view, I'm not medically qualified. This is for the sole purpose of information for those who are interested. This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life.  For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 53 years old and in October 2011 I  had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gave me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring.  In early February, I got the results of the a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0, Jan 2014 was 3.8, August 2014 was 4.0,  February 2015 it was  up to 5.5  and my latest in August 2015 was down againg at 4.6. In October 2015 I had a transperinial Prostate biopsy, that revealed higher grade cancer and my Gleason score was raised to 3+4 (Small mass + more aggressive cancer), albiet with small mass. On 22nd Jan 2016 Ihad HIFU (Hi Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatment at UCHL). I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

So here I am, three weeks into my recovery. All seems well. Regular readers will hopefully be pleased to hear that in terms of side effects, all is looking OK. But today I feel I simply have to speak about the current dispute between the NHS "junior doctors" and the government and specifically the health minister Jeremy Hunt. The issue is all about a seven day a week NHS. It is pretty clear that some NHS functions are 24x7. A&E being the classic example. It is also clear that many departments are not. My HIFU procedure is a typical example. That was done as a day procedure. I can think of nothing worse than having it at 3am on a Saturday morning. Such departments are perfectly Ok running on a 9-5 Mon-Fri basis. The same is true of the outpatients and the follow up.

Whilst Mr Hunt talks about a 24x7 service, this is not what the debate is about. It is about the government not wishing to fund it. Doctors have every right to expect a decent rate of pay, given their training and their expertise. As someone who has benefitted hugey from their efforts, I want to see the best people employed by the NHS, not the cheapest. When bankers received a huge taxpayer backed bale out, the argument was that they should still get bonuses and perks so that the uk didn't see a drain on our talent. The same should apply to the NHS.

Another myth is that NHS spending would grow beyond sustainable levels. This is another myth. In terms of GDP the NHS is one of the cheapest and most efficient health services in the world. the USA pays nerly twice as much per GDP as the UK on health, yet millions are deprived of treatment duet to the privatised nature of the service. It is true that there are always new treatments and some of these are expensive, but it is equally true that some treatments fix problems that previously required long term expensive treatments. One example of this was the treatment my mother had for a crumbling spine and small fractures. They injected cement and she was able to get on with her life and come off long term pain relief. With some of these payback is over several years, but there is a payback.

If you listened to some government commontators, you'd think everyone was ill and everyone simply wanted to malinger for weeks on end in hospital. This is of course nonsense as they kick you out as soon as they can. The procedure I had used to require an overnight stay. Now you go home.

As a health service user, I have  simple message for Mr Hunt . Treat doctors with respect and pay them a wage that reflects their training and expertise. It is as simple s that.

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