THERE are many occasions when the National Health Service is done no favours by its management – and the blunder over the recruitment of junior doctors is yet another such example. Job offers have been rescinded, and the process started from scratch, because of errors in a computer programme which judged the skills of each candidate.
This is regrettable. Not only had successful applicants made arrangements to move to other parts of the country to begin their work as hospital registrars, but it comes at a time when the NHS is facing record demand for its expertise and doctors from overseas are being refused permission to work here due to Theresa May’s visa restrictions.
Yet hospitals, doctors and NHS staff are not helped by those individuals who take little or no any personal responsibility for their health – rates of obesity are now at an alarming level – or some short-sighted social policy decisions that might discourage people from taking regular exercise.
This is borne out by research by the Fields in Trust charity spearheaded by the Duke of Cambridge. It estimates that the UK’s parks save the NHS more than £111m a year – enough to may for 3,500 nurses – because of the health benefits enjoyed by regular users. The wider benefits of open spaces can amount to £34bn in enhanced physical and mental wellbeing.
Yet, while the charity wants 75 per cent of all residents to live within a 10-minute walk of a protected park or green space by 2022, and with bodies like the National Trust now committed to reaching out to people from urban areas, local councils – and the Government – need to see the folly of their decision-making.
Rather than allowing the maintenance of parks and playing fields, to be scaled back, or sacrificed for new developments, it’s time they viewed such open spaces as an investment in the nation’s future health.