It is also a salutary reminder that the Government cannot take public support for granted despite the NHS being promised an extra £20.5bn a year after events to mark its 70th anniversary. Money must be matched by constructive reform, starting with an understanding of the reasons behind this apparent fall in popularity.
To begin, this should not be construed as a snub to hospital staff. Quite the opposite. Most appreciate the extraordinary job that doctors, nurses and others are doing at a time of chronic staff shortages and increased demand for quality and compassionate care as a direct consequence of an ageing society. Matt Hancock, the over-confident Health and Social Care Secretary, would have been better served addressing this rather than answering questions on behalf of Chris Grayling, the failing Transport Secretary, in Parliament this week.
Hospitals are also only as good as the out-of-hours medical cover in the communities that they serve – increasing difficulties obtaining a GP appointment is probably another explanation for this dissatisfaction – and there can also be frustrations when it comes to communication between doctors and patients.
Just trying to get hold of the relevant person can be a source of anxiety. Yet the NHS should be assured that patients will be sympathetic provided that they’re kept informed about the progress of their case – and that there is also a continuing focus on preventative healthcare. Both of these issues, too, are key to the long-term health of the NHS.