Changes to the NHS are a matter of ‘how’ rather than ‘if’

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From: Dr Paul Charlson, Westfield Park, Brough.

I AGREE with many of the points that Bob Bury makes about the NHS in his opinion piece (Yorkshire Post, January 5).

However there are a couple of things I would take issue with. Walk-in centres have not all failed in fact I have been involved in three very successful ones in Grimsby, Sheffield and Derby.

The reason some have failed is because the previous Government insisted that a centre was set up in every PCT regardless of need.

In some places, this was simply inappropriate. Secondly they were not planned to integrate with pre-existing services and thirdly the contracts were over generous and diverted money from other projects causing resentment from other healthcare providers in those localities.

However many patients have benefited from better access to GPs over longer hours and there is a need in those areas where centres still operate.

Bob says that clinical commissioning groups will “be hived off to private providers”. I have spoken with high-level people within the Department of Health and this is not the intention. This part of the guidance has been misinterpreted by a variety of commentators and seems to have become the “truth” which it is not.

The NHS faces an enormous challenge over the next few years due to the UK’s poor economic position regardless of any changes this Government wishes to make. No change, however attractive to some, is simply not going to be an option. Some ideas will work better than others.

From: RC Curry, Adel Grange Close, Leeds.

THE article by Dr Bob Bury hit on the major issue of health education, en route touching on the topic of privatisation within the system.

However, he missed one point which is the attitude of too many of the public to what they see as “free services”.

Both the NHS and the schools receive their unfair share of this. The benefit system is another example. They are abused in differing ways.

In the NHS the high rate of “no shows” at GPs’ surgeries and some at hospital out-patients are one factor and I have witnessed patients in hospital, who should know better, showing disregard or being rude to doctors and nurses attending their needs. Behaviour of inebriates at A&E is appalling.

Too many visitors show little care for the facilities with casual attention to cleanliness, so endangering lives.

Schools suffer from too many parents who are less than caring and abrogate responsibility, using them as glorified child caring places from infancy onwards, taking little or no interest in the school or the education it offers. Primary school teachers tell how parental duties are having to be covered by the schools.

Education is the key to the issue but how that can be achieved is yet another problem. When healthy eating was promoted by Jamie Oliver, some parents fought against that by passing inappropriate food through railings at lunchtime, with walking breakfasts on the way to school and tuckshop treats on the way back instead of providing proper meals at home.

The private health sector can be a useful addition to the facilities available. However, spreading that concept wider into the NHS is not the sole answer as the ways of private operators can get subsumed within the wider ambit.

Dr Bury has indeed hit a nail or two on the head, but the million dollar question is, how to implement what is needed? So far it has eluded all governments.