Today the NHS is 65 years old. During that time it has made a huge difference to the lives of everyone. Like all big organisations it has had times when things have gone wrong or not as well as they could have.
It is easy to lose sight of the change and improvements that have been made, especially when there are high profile examples of the service failing people.
But let’s look at how much progress has been made in so many areas.
Lengths of Stay
In the past it was not uncommon for patients to spend a week or two in hospital for procedures that now require an overnight stay or are even done as day cases.
Speed of Access
When people require an operation there is an 18 week target from referral to treatment. Would people like it to be quicker? I am sure they would in an ideal world. Yet we should not forget that it was only about 13 years ago that we were talking about reducing wait times from 18 months to 15 months.
In critical areas like cancer, the improvements have been even more dramatic.
A lot of things that historically might have required a hospital visit are now routinely done at the local GP surgery.
Care At Home
While there is till a long way to go, there are more and more initiatives coming in to provide care at home and avoid potential admissions to hospital.
These few highlights are just the tip of the iceberg.
One thing that is often overlooked is the contribution that staff, clinical and non clinical have made to improving the service. While initiatives and improvements are announced at a national level, it is people at a local level who make it happen.
Day in and day out staff are doing demanding and challenging work. They know that there is never going to be an easy day as people get sick and need access to services 365 days of the year.
People will always say that it could be done better. Of course there will always be opportunities to do even better. But let’s acknowledge the great work that the NHS does in meeting the needs of patients and service users.
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