People tell me about all sorts of things when I am out campaigning. But the NHS comes up the most often. Like the people I talk to, the NHS is something I care deeply about.
It’s one of the main reasons I am standing for election. It’s why I go out most days to knock on doors, one of the main reasons so many volunteers join me. We believe in a world where everyone contributes according to their means, so that everyone is cared for when they need it. Our experience of speaking to people across Bristol is that most people agree that the NHS is the best way we know that this principle of fairness works.
Alex in Cotham, last week, said: “I’ve recently had an operation and got fantastic care.” And he linked this to immigration. “I get fed up of the stereotyping of immigrants– the care I got from the NHS shows just how hard people work when they come here.”
GPs and Practice Managers have been getting in touch with me in response to a survey Darren Jones (Labour’s candidate in Bristol North West) and I are doing.
One Practice Manager said: “it’s not commissioning as such that’s the problem, it’s the devastation of the Primary Care Trust and replacement by NHS England, who run roughshod over practices. Administration has been triplicated between CCG, NHS England and Public Health.”
Another Practice Manager adds: “GPs are now expected to be doctors, report fillers, audit clerks, pathway developers, commissioners of services, developers of services… GPs are expected to solve secondary care problems all of which are not our making or within our control.”
A GP told me: “Patient care isn’t suffering, we’re just working harder and longer hours.” This practice has invited me to come and see for myself how they are managing.
Another GP who has also invited me to meet up has welcomed the survey and also suggested some more questions to ask, about how demographic and organisational changes have affected workload and patient care. I’m really looking forward to spending time with them and learning more.
I’ve also been speaking to people as patients. Jeremy, a man suffering mental illness whose compassion for others leads him to talk to me often about his worries for others. He also links it to other policy problems.
“I’m really worried about suicides I think will happen because of the intolerable pressure put on profoundly mentally ill people. They’re being told they aren’t trying hard enough to look for work – if they keep on being rejected because they have to meet a target for job applications, how is that going to help their depression?” he asks.
Another neighbour of mine, a nurse, adds: “I am in despair over the waste of money on the reorganisation, but I know none of us wants to go through another massive re-organisation.”
What I am doing now, in Bristol, is speak to people who work in or owe their lives or the lives of someone dear to them to the NHS, campaign to reverse damaging changes but support NHS staff, campaign to tackle mental health care with urgency and to bring health care and social care together.
This article was published in Bristol 24-7 on 18 September 2014: read at the source