What is Hunt made of…

IMG_1427

My appointment is at three.

Days and weeks swirl, entwine, unravel, knit into new forms.

There was a melt down, and I write that in the passive because that’s how it feels; a passive, dissociative melt down with a brake. I know what’s coming isn’t good, I know. But do I?

And still there is admin, and negotiation, and worries about extraneous things. I haven’t sorted my work questionnaire for DWP, who are back on the Fit Note references. I had a warning letter because time runs out on 6th. But I can’t do it, I can’t work out how to organise it, need to speak to HMRC, can’t work it out. Can’t decide.

I went to the Tavistock Macmillan drop in on Friday, they will write me a letter. I was talking about all sorts, but not really. My brain is in control in some sense, but I’ve lost me in there.

I sense skeins of spider silk, spinning from my brain, around my physical body, back through the mind, a kind of pupa perhaps. Such a weird physical, mental, emotional space. An evisceration of the idea of mind-body dualism, where I cannot tell cause from effect, psyche from physiology. My body is constrained by loss of sensory function in my face, legs and hands, dead numbness, equating to the numbness in my mind. I have an oval area about a foot long, laterally above my left knee, which is dead, yet burns intermittently; I thought it was an area of steroid-related sandpaper skin, of which I have several. But the skin there is soft. There is an absence of muscle, a flatness. The tight area in my skull where the craniotomy heals tugs gently across the diagonal.  I’m weak. I sit and feel the weakness, draining, draining. Steroids? I’m still less than three weeks from the op. Permanent or temporary? A mix? My strong body is gone, and my mind struggles; and I know not whether either will return.

A swimming friend, whom I know only via Facebook, sent me Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal in both written and audio form. I read and listened, in short bursts over the past week or so. The gift was in response to my blog post Death and all his enemies about social care and our elderly people in particular, and the way we torture people at the end of their lives in such a misguided mess of enforced treatment and isolation. The book is astounding. I am already open to such ideas, yet the range of evidence and approaches, and some of the things I’ve personally done to persuade people to accept care, hit me too. How complicit are we all in this?

Then, where the book turns to treatment for illnesses such as mine, and the purpose of it, then to the boundaries of palliative care, I find myself reconsidering much about the treatments I might be willing to accept now – in particular brain radiotherapy which I know is the primary treatment for me whatever the outcome today. While Gawande talks about the market-driven US (not exclusively – his explanation of the extended family and their care for his own elderly forbears in India is englightening), there are plenty of vested interests at play anywhere Big Pharma and the medical model hold sway. Enmesh those with our current cultural refusal to discuss or accept death, and we have a complexity that is beyond us.

There are many people attempting to address these issues, and a few are succeeding in inspirational ways.  But in a climate where failed austerity policies simply use such ideas as spin in order to justify cuts, and where profit trumps all other value, there will never be anything other than a mess. That’s the real choice; most of us will end up either dying from an illness, or decomposing into loneliness and frailty where the point of our lives is lost. That will most likely be you one day. So would you like a tax cut and a nightmare end?  Or would you prefer to have excellent social and health care that ensures your happiness and a managed decline during which you aren’t locked in a nursing home without your pet, or the ability to wander off when you feel like it, or to drink your nightly G&T? It’s about control. Social enterprise, decent social services in the public sector. It’s not about profit for offshore hedge funds, or investment rooms in nursing homes.

I’ve no idea what’s going to happen later on when I find out exactly what Hunt was made of. But I know that I have choices, and I have plenty of research to undertake. I’m going alone to the appointment; I know it’s going to be hard, but I have to remove myself from the worry of how anyone else there is going to take the news too, and I can’t. So I’d rather take it in myself, make notes, and then explain later on.

Thank you for the lovely messages, and to D for the book.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Nurses and other expenses

11214147_10153561223018251_2422331443908617561_n

I had a stressful day on Friday that I’d rater forget about, related to extraneous events that I just can’t deal with at the moment.  I’ve posted a happy picture of me and a  friend swimming last May because it makes me smile.

Luckily, or not, I’ve been diverted by the nurse shortage, which is of course due entirely to events outside the government’s control, and for which their policies and short-termist swingeing cuts cannot possibly be held accountable. Oh, and they’ve been saying, ad nauseum in answer to any number of questions in parliament, just how many ‘extra’ nurses (doctors, paramedics) there are since they started running the show.

Top of Hunt’s list of reasons for the NHS’s staffing problems, is the rising bill associated with fed up staff whose pay and terms and conditions have been eroded significantly since 2010. These staff, many of whom had worked for the NHS for decades, suddenly started to up sticks and display their greed and lack of compassion and vocation by working via private agencies instead of the NHS.

Hunt doesn’t like this. I thought that was how the great god Market was supposed to operate, Jeremy? Otherwise, why are you privatising NHS Professionals? This is the public, in-house staffing agency which makes a profit for the taxpayer. Why, you could even develop it, drive those agency costs down with another nice bit of enforced competition (see Health and Social Care Act for how that works, though it is rather expensive at £5billion a year from the NHS budget just for competitive tendering).  I’m beginning to wonder about Hunt’s brain. Surely blind adherence to dogma and an utter disregard for logic precludes such high office? Hunt is certainly having the kind of effects on the NHS that his tumour namesake continues to exert my own life. The things he’s made me do.

The nurse shortage was highlighted by a newspaper report the other day and it’s a key area of concern not least bearing in mind Hunt’s inexplicable decision to stop nursing degree bursaries and replace them with tuition fees and loans. But the whole story is far more shocking than that.

This report raises a host of relevant issues. The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended that nursing should remain on the shortage occupation list allowing non-EU nationals to be recruited from abroad. It also argues that that the Department of Health (DH) and the NHS failed, with no good reason other than the perceived need to save money, to create enough nurse training places.

It’s estimated that 9.4% of nursing places in England are vacant; and there were 17% cuts to nursing training places under the Coalition government which was a “significant contributing factor” to the current shortage.

The NHS training body Health Education England wanted to commission 3,000 nurse training places in 2016/17. But as a result of “funding constraints” it only commissioned 331 – one tenth of what was needed.

The MAC report concludes:

“It is clear to us that the current shortage of nurses is largely of the health, care and independent sectors’ own making. They did not learn the lessons from the late 1990s/early 2000s when a similar shortage (and reliance on foreign nurses) occurred. Almost all of these issues relate to, and are caused by, a desire to save money. But this is a choice, not a fixed fact. The Government could invest more resources if it wanted to.”

Then a quote from a Department of Health spokesperson:

The Department of Health is “delivering on our plan to train more home-grown nurses”.

What? Could anyone in possession of any of the facts, or indeed a functioning brain, say anything more utterly stupid? It’s no wonder everyone was asleep till the budget woke them up.

Unfortunately, yes, they could. I’m not even going to let you guess who said it:

Hunt in the BMJ: “We’re reforming the funding of nurse training in order to make sure we can afford to train more nurses.”

I suppose he’s referring to his aforementioned plan to replace bursaries for nursing training with loans and tuition fees; bursaries that allow many older people with valuable life experiences to train as nurses, at a time of recruitment crisis and shortages. A policy that will not only actively discourage, but will effectively prevent, many of these people who have families and limited financial resources from training as nurses Hunt has also acknowledged that staff planning has been lacking in the NHS for decades. Yes, it has. So at what point since 2012 when you took over as Secretary of State for Health did you consider actually doing something about it Jeremy?   Bravo Mr Hunt indeed.

And behind all of this of course is Mr Hunt’s big push on safety. Safe staffing involves having enough suitably qualified staff, and the Francis and Berwick reports into the Mid-Staffs failures specifically address this concern and recommends NICE  – an independent body – to undertake the review. Jeremy liked this, because it allowed him to batter nurses over the head with their lack of compassion and vocation, and their silly pretensions at understanding how to manage the complexities of modern medicine, surgery and technical equipment when they’d be far happier floating up and down with lamps and starched hats, porting flannels with which to transfer pathogens onto fevered brows. Except that the actual evidence might result in the need to actually produce real qualified staff rather than imaginary ones and having to pay them to boot, darn it.

Enter NHS England, the body set up to run the NHS after the Secretary of State for Health was absolved of that little responsibility by the Health and Social Care Act (2012), the one that officially made the NHS no more. (You might have missed that too.) They decided, before the Nice report was published to take over responsibility for the research themselves. Now you might wonder about vested interests versus independence, you might wonder about standards of evidence. You might wonder at NHS England’s their lamentable budget and plan to save £22billion more in ‘efficiency’ savings despite the parlous state of NHS trusts’ finances. You might have predicted that the DoH would withold the NICE information under Freedom of Information. But nicely, NICE then decided it was in the public interest to release the information later, and you can see their reasoning here.

There are many examples of government tactics to avoid answering difficult questions; they’ve reached a level where debate is not happening because spin is automatic, it’s reported often without question in the right wing tabloids and broadsheets, misused statistics are stated as fact, significant evidence is buried in favour of cherry picking from often discredited research (the NHS Risk Register has still not been released).

One of the nastier methods involved the Prime Minister’s repeated use of his late son Ivan’s disability as a means of blocking debate on the NHS in parliament because this proved his love for the NHS. The Camerons must have been through hell, and nobody can argue that they didn’t do their very best by Ivan. They didn’t hide him, he was clearly deeply loved. Yet their experiences are always mitigated by wealth, by the ability to set up a converted basement at home to care for their son. Cameron used Ivan as emotional blackmail to get out of answering questions about his intentions for the NHS. The Camerons’ is also not an experience made more harrowing still by the bedroom tax and the government fighting a High Court decision arguing the bedroom tax discriminates against disabled people by challenging some of them in the Supreme Court.

The NHS is an now a collpasing omnishambles, to borrow an ill-fated phrase from an ill-fated leader; one created by government policy over the past fifteen or so years that introduced the internal market (those fundamental conflicts of value systems between the human and the financial again) although Labour at least invested money and our NHS ranked highly among health services in 2012. Since then, the coalition and Tory governments under Cameron have destroyed it. They haven’t asked us what we want, they’ve lied, been caught lying, continued to get away with lying to us and to each other. Many of the staff in the NHS have no idea what the Health and Social Care Act did – which is laid the foundations for privatisation while burying the bodies of pitfalls and costs beneath the foundations of their spin flyover. It’s time for the government to take responsibility and do the job we are paying it to do, while telling us exactly what that is.

Finally, I couldn’t resist adding this piece from Conservative Home in full. I’ll let it speak for itself. At least the author is honest.

The Government’s dispute with the doctors’ union continues to escalate, with junior doctors preparing to hold the first full walkout in the history of the NHS.Writing in the Daily Telegraph, James Kirkup gives the recalcitrant medics a warning from history. He warns that the BMA is repeating the mistakes of the National Union of Mineworkers, over-estimating the nation’s dependency on their members.

That Britain’s economy could survive without British coal was unthinkable, right up until it wasn’t. Kirkup argues that technological progress and competing models of provision mean that our monolithic state healthcare provider may soon find itself similarly outflanked.

But whilst that might be true, it is by no means certain that we have reached this point now. For all that Arthur Scargill’s attempt to topple Margaret Thatcher is the stuff of legend, it shouldn’t eclipse the fact that there were plenty of miners’ strikes before that final confrontation and the miners won most of them, enjoying public sympathy as they did so.

Jeremy Hunt could end up being a modern-day Margaret Thatcher, bringing truculent trades unionists to heel and unleashing modernity on one of the UK’s totemic industries. Or he could be Edward Heath.

As Simon Jenkins points out in today’s Daily Mail, public support for the NHS is currently bulletproof. This makes it incredibly hard to reform: in fact, the public health lobby have convinced many politicians that it is easier to reform the public than to make a serious attempt to reform public services.

“Cost to the NHS” is thus one of the main pillars of modern drives against smoking and obesity. But setting aside any liberal qualms we might have about that, it isn’t clear that this represents a viable long-term solution.

Anybody who the state ‘saves’ from a tobacco or food-related death will still die of something, and the NHS will pay for it. If that person is forced to live a long life then they will likely end up costing the NHS far more than they would had they died younger – the increasing ability for medical science to prolong our senescence is by far the greatest structural challenge the service faces.

Treating expenditure on smoking and obesity-related health problems as money that can be straight-up saved, without accounting for the inevitable transfer of the burden to other parts of the health budget, is therefore extremely disingenuous.

Assuming that we can’t force people do be so healthy that we can afford the NHS, we’re then still confronted with the need to reform it.

It may be that needless deaths caused by industrial action lead to a dramatic sea change in popular attitudes, but as it stands we’re a long way from a place where “wholesale reform via head-on confrontation” seems likely to work, even as a last resort.

Rather, Conservatives should have a long-term, strategic vision for healthcare reform which involves the piecemeal adoption of decentralisation, liberalisation and modernisation in doses the public will tolerate.

Obviously there are a huge number of things this could involve, and Party policymakers should canvass widely for proposals. But when it comes to tackling the outdated and overweening influence of militant unions in the NHS, here are two suggestions.

In his article, Kirkup mentions “the George Washington University study that estimates 85 per cent of a typical doctor’s work can be done perfectly well by a “physician’s assistant” with a fraction of the training or wages.”

If that is the case, perhaps one way to increase staff supplies in the service – without resorting tocontroversial over-dependence on foreign nurses – would be some form of ‘Territorial NHS’, or Health Service Reserve, modelled on its military counterpart.

Volunteers would receive pay, training, and legal rights to take time out of their ‘civilian’ life to work for so many weeks of the year in the NHS. This shouldn’t be impossible: the Armed Forces reserves already offer recruits the opportunity to train in a huge range of technical skills.

A larger, flexible pool of ‘physician’s assistants’ would reduce the NHS’s dependence on full-time professionals. This would not only ease immediate wage and staffing pressures, but make it easier for management to respond to future shifts in demand.

Like any nationalised industry, one of the major problems facing the health service is its need to predict future demand without the aid of psychics. The long training current staff require makes it impossible to rapidly adjust to unexpected demand (without importing labour, that is.)

A ready pool of capable staff, which can be topped up relatively quickly, could thus plug gaps as they arise and make it easier to do that with British personnel.

Given public affection for the NHS, and the esteem in which its staff are held, there’s no reason to think that recruitment would be impossible.

The other way the Government could clip the BMA’s wings would be to diminish their capacity for strike action.

One could approach this task in at least two ways. The blunt-force approach would be to declare doctors, at least, to be one of the essential professions – such as the police and the military – whose members are forbidden to strike. If the junior doctors keep up their current antics this may well become politically possible.

But another way would be to step up the decentralisation of the NHS and make hospital trusts legally-distinct employers.

At a stroke, this would bring the public sector into line with the private by making politically-motivated, industry-wide strikes impossible.

This is because, with sympathy strikes and secondary picketing illegal, trades unions can only call strikes over a specific grievance with an individual employer. In the private sector this has led to conciliatory, service-based unions.

But because all public sectors workers are ultimately employed by the Government, they have been spared the effects of this legislation.

Making hospital trusts independent would not only mean the end of the national strike, it would also yield other benefits. By employing staff on private sector terms such essential and sensible reforms as locally variable and performance-based pay, as well as rational, private-sector pensions, would be as irresistible as they have been in the private economy.

Faced with an incentive to innovate and reduce costs, some trusts may even start to innovate with things like the “production-line” surgical hospitals pioneered by Devi Shetty – channelling the savings into other areas.

It would also mean that in the event of a dispute at any trust, the Government would not be on one side of the table, under political pressure and with the easy out of simply paying up from taxation or borrowing.

One day, the BMA will have their 1984. But it would be complacent to assume that this is it, or that bloody-mindedness alone will bring it about. Conservative strategists owe it to themselves, and to the country, to lay the groundwork properly.

 

PS Henry here describes himself as ‘centre-right’.

 

BBC Spotlight

BBC Spotlight 11 March 2016

I had already spoken to a BBC Devon reporter about the cancellation of 90% of theatre slots at Derriford at the weekend, and was going to speak to a Spotlight crew, and also on BBC Radio Devon, earlier this week. I wanted to make a point about cuts and their expensive results in both human and financial terms, but was quite unsure about how that might work out. I was wary too of making this about my personal situation, my cancelled op, to the detriment of all those others in a similar position. Radio is far more controllable in that I’d have been speaking live to the presenter. For the tv news, I’d lose that in the edit. In the end, my op stopped the piece and I didn’t feel able on Thursday to speak about it.

Yesterday I knew with absolute certainty that I’d do this. The final impetus came from the woman I’d met in blue bay and our long conversation as we waited. So I called the reporter as soon as I got news that ops were being cancelled, then again when my cancellation was confirmed. Within an hour of arriving home, the reporter and cameraman were there and ready to film.

John was very receptive to my point of view, and having been told earlier by another reporter that he didn’t want political points, I was pretty concerned that this would become a story about the hospital, about their failures rather than the bigger picture.

Once we’d talked in depth, John was happy to discuss my opinion particularly because of my professional NHS experience and because I had some statistical evidence to back the social care crisis, although not for the information I’d been given at the hospital which hadn’t been volunteered in the context of a news report. There’s a whole debate to be had here about politics and the BBC, and the notion of political bias; but opinion is valid, and it isn’t about perceived political bias, it’s about airing the range of viewpoints and sparking debate. Closing it down would appear to be the political and media default at the moment, through rubbishing entire viewpoints and political stances, through personal attacks and sneering.

As John left, he told me he’d already picked up on two points I made that he was going to use to make the story. I didn’t know what those were, however.

I’m very pleased that my points were made, and that the edit allowed me to have a valid and informed opinion. But it could have gone horribly wrong.

I’d like to add Plum’s comments here too, because as ever she’s hit some crucial nails home. (And my happy op top is by ebay, Plum).

I have massively mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand I am incredibly proud of Lynne for having the presence of mind, dignity and perspective to make the very last minute cancellation of her time-critical brain tumour surgery the headline story on her local TV news. She speaks with clarity and without histrionics. I couldn’t manage that in her situation… I can barely talk to her about it without becoming ranty and shouty and sweary and thoroughly undignified… I certainly wouldn’t be fit for TV before the watershed.

But on the other hand I am sad, and livid and disappointed that her surgery has been cancelled in this way. And I am even sadder that the medical director at Derriford, in his statement, didn’t get the obvious point across… That critical care beds are in short supply because this government does not adequately resource the healthcare service that we have all already paid for, that we continue to pay for, and that they promised they would not interfere with before they were elected into coalition. While we have people, in positions of power in NHS Trusts, who do not challenge the government on the elephant in the room that is lack of funding we will never see any improvement. And while we have an electorate that can’t be bothered to look beyond the end of their own noses, and the spin and lies this government feeds them, there is no prospect of change.

And I am absolutely apoplectic at the Tory MPs who, today, talked for 4.5hrs on a two clause bill about foreign nationals that has already been once debated and rejected. They spun that out purposely to thwart debate of a private member’s NHS Reinstatement Bill.

So today sums up perfectly the dichotomy between those who need urgent critical care, and those who will not tolerate any challenge to the government having divested themselves of the responsibility to provide that care free of charge at the point of use.

I’m ashamed of our ‘democracy’. It is a sham.

I’m also quite jealous of Lynne’s green stripy top.

 

 

 

 

The dog formerly known as Bun

IMG_2701“Bun Bun! Come!”

I attempt a whistle, and for the first time in weeks manage to make a fairly piercing sound (thanks again roids). You’d never know, however, since Bun continues to hoover up rabbit poo on the far side of the field and betrays no sign of having heard me whatsoever. I try again.

Oblivious.

I pull the bag of sausage slices from my coat, and shout:

“Sausage!”

Bun comes bouldering towards me, 300m at full sprint, a polar bear after a seal. She skids to a halt and sits, head and ears perked and tail straight back, so I can drop the sausage into her mouth.

Honey Bun came to me aged 3 1/2 as the victim of a family breakup, loved but largely untrained and with little in the way of socialisation with other dogs. She’s now 9, and is well-behaved, loving and generally gorgeous, funny, tolerant of other dogs, but with a sniff and food obsession and high intelligence commensurate with her labrador and standard poodle ancestry. She sometimes needs a firm hand, as in this case, where usually I would go to her and make her come to me, then run through a few commands just to remind her who’s boss (?). She is trained through constantly reinforcing wanted behaviours, and then tailing off the treats so that the dog is never quite sure whether she will get one but thinks it’s worth a punt.

I have mentioned our worries about her during the period since December where she was clearly upset by the changes in atmosphere and the moving of things from one house to another, and over which I now know I was unwell. The result of this is that she’s been fed more treats and generally overindulged.  Yes she’s spoiled (another memory is coming to stay here for a night and telling Mum I didn’t need clean bedding to which she replied: “But that’s Honey’s bedding”; Mum had been making up the bed in the spare room for her with her own duvet, cover and blanket, each time she stayed which was often then, when I was working shifts).

When we discuss dinner, Mum will say “Honey and I are having liver”, or “I’ll get a pheasant out of the freezer for Honey”.  That’s partly  because we love our dogs, and partly because my farmers’ daughter mother considers dogs who live in veggie homes to be nutritionally and emotionally deprived. Yet Bun is still expected to behave and knows her boundaries.

M and M arrive and Bun is in the garden. M calls her to say hello.

“Bun!”

She blanks M completely. I tell M about the sausage call.

“Sausage!” she says.

Bun screams into the kitchen, cornering like Guy Martin, and sits by the fridge.

So, as an unintended consequence of my illness, the dog formerly known as Bun now answers only to Sausage.

I imagine similar stories relating to kids.

Beds and blurring

I’d tried to rationalise the blurred vision, and was still unsure about what to do by the morning yesterday. An optometrist I know had contacted me to say she’s never heard of cataracts developing that rapidly, and to get my visual field checked by an optician as the tumour could be affecting that so I felt quite reassured.

I decided on the GP, partly from knowing that Derriford would be in full Monday morning chaos sorting mode, and partly because while I want them to know I’ve developed this new symptom, it felt more appropriate to get the other possibilities checked out locally. Also, the only thing that would stop it if it is Hunt-related, is removal of the tumour which they are doing their utmost to arrange in the fallout from £4.5billion of cuts to social care to the acute setting.

I was given a duty doctor appointment for 1130, where I saw another excellent doctor I know mostly in a professional capacity from his work for Devon Docs. He worked through my concerns starting with the breathlessness and checked my chest (clear as I thought) and general obs. My eyes looked good, and I was able to see at the peripheries.

We talked about the situation, and I explained that I’m half thinking these symptoms are in my head in more ways than one, as I continue to circle with the two top choices between a primary brain tumour and mets.

He ran over the very many side effects of dexamethasone, and mine are there. So the doc’s conclusion is that side-effects are top of the list, but that we’ll exclude a few other causes so he takes some bloods to check for various other problems including anaemia which is another cause of breathlessness.

I ask him about the blurring and  its specific cause. He’s not sure, but suspects that it has to do with changes to the pressure in the eyes, which are filled with jelly-like substances called the vitreous humour and the aqueous humour. Seeing the shifts in fluid in my body, it’s easy to translate into small changes within the eye that begin to distort the vision so that made total sense.

The bad news there of course is that I need the steroids. All medications have unwanted side-effects and risks. They are given on the basis that the benefits in a specific situation outweigh those negatives. In my case there’s no question in my mind that being a bit bleary-eyed is preferable to the problems I was having over the past few weeks and even months. So I am going to have to deal with the blurriness, potentially for a prolonged period. Already it varies, but I’ve only had a few hours of being unable to read completely. Otherwise it’s like the period an hour or so after you’ve applied viscous ointment to an eye and there’s a thin film over the lens. It’s only really noticeable if I try to watch tv which I haven’t been doing much of in any case, though I did desperately want to watch Raised by Wolves. I have Radio 4 podcasts, a cd book from my friend L, and my music. M has set up my laptop to read text (while other M shaved my legs, though I probably won’t notice the hair now).

I called Tony my nurse late afternoon and left a message, but it’s feeling pretty bleak in terms of bed prospects. While the neurosurgery department have been wonderful in so many ways, I do have this one criticism about information. I understand absolutely the situation they are in, the frustrations, and no doubt the many other people who are in the same boat, or who have had their less urgent surgeries cancelled due to events beyond the control of the department. Magnify the way I’m feeling by all those people, and it’s a whole lot of stress. Might it be possible to provide some kind of regular update for those of us strung up and swinging in the winds of this bed crisis? Perhaps a daily phone call, or a message board on line, or an email, even giving a simple message of we still don’t know? That would make a huge difference to me.

One other momentous event happened yesterday, which was an overwhelming day all round. More on that later. Now I’m off to give Sausage her breakfast.

 

Buck passing

“I understand you have a problem with Derriford Hospital?”

The call is from Geoffrey Cox MP’s office. I’d though I’d been pretty clear yesterday that I have no problem whatsoever with Derriford Hospital, but this of course is the mindset of our political class. Where does the buck stop?

“No, I have no problem whatsoever with Derriford Hospital, nor with anyone else in the NHS. I have been treated amazingly from the first visit to my GP till now. I have a problem with government cuts to social care which is the prime reason that Derriford is being forced to cancel urgent neurosurgery.”

“So what would you like Mr Cox to do?”

I explain again, far more succinctly that I did yesterday, that I’d like to know Mr Cox’s thoughts on the situation with the social care crisis. I’d like to know what the government is doing to solve this crisis.

I would like to know who in government will take responsibility for the situation with the NHS and social care.

I would Mr Cox to ask Jeremy Hunt to take responsibility for the current state of the NHS, and to identify the issues and address the funding gap and the bed shortage. This is his job. I would like him to manage the situation without blaming anyone else, whether that’s trusts, or junior doctors, or nurses.

“I realise this is a political point, but it’s a key political point. My personal situation is the direct result of the failures in government health and social care policies since 2010.”

I tell the aide that I’m not doing this to queue jump, to kick up a stink about my own situation. I’m doing it for all of us waiting for urgent neurosurgery this week, and next.

I can expect a letter, the woman says.