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Decoding the seven day health service

Apparently the government here in the UK is dedicated to providing us with a seven day NHS.

Call me blinkered, but somehow I had overlooked the Sunday epidemic of disease and death caused by hospitals being closed. Somehow, too, I had failed to notice the lack of ambulances on the road on weekends because we don’t have a seven day health service. That doctor who stitched my friend’s hand on a Sunday afternoon after she got bitten (by a dog, not a Tory) while leafletting for Labour? Obviously, she was an aberration, because the government is telling us, ad nauseam, that we don’t currently have a seven day health service.

Astonishingly, given the epidemic of disease and death that needs to be dealt with that results from the shutdown of the entire NHS on weekends, parliamentarians of all colours will spend most of the next six weeks at home, in their constituencies, with their families. They would, I suspect, describe this as part of a healthy work life balance. It would, they protest, undermine the solemnity and traditions of parliament if they were asked to turn up to the House of Commons on a weekend, when it’s more convenient for us all to watch them. (Although, to be fair,they maynot like being watched. Law making is like sausage making; if you saw the ingredients and the way they’re made you’d never trust the finished product again). So, we leave the hugely expensive and chronically under used Palace of Westminster dark on weekends, because legislators like a healthy work life balance.

NHS workers deserve a healthy work life balance too.

NHS workers deserve terms and conditions that acknowledge the hours they work, the challenges they face, and the amount we value them. We need to recruit the best possible health workers, so they deserve to be well remunerated, in order to attract the best possible candidates. These arguments are very similar to the arguments deployed by the independent review body that decided MPs deserve an 11%pay rise. NHS workers will get, for the next four years,a 1% pay rise per year.

The rhetoric of the seven day health service is all part of the attack on the NHS, that is geared up to suggesting we don’t currently have a superb NHS, and that it needs to be broken apart into tiny pieces in order to make it better. In order to make this profitable for the private sector, NHS workers terms and conditions have to be broken. The seven day NHS is part of that strategy. So, on Sunday, if you’re having a great weekend off, remember; NHS workers deserve their weekend off too, and if they can’t have one, they deserve to be compensated for the work they do, for us.


8 comments on “Decoding the seven day health service

  1. korhomme
    July 17, 2015

    You could add the Courts to a list of part-time workings.

    The 6,000 extra deaths assertion—deaths from weekend admission—is dubious without more information.

    I used to work for the NHS. Somehow, 5-day working also became 7-day working even then.


  2. elrond
    July 17, 2015

    You ignore the cases where issues occur at the weekend, and specialist consultants are required who are not there. All to often I read, and know of people who are put on inadequate care over the weekends, waiting for the 9 to 5 consultant to come on duty.

    Yes, getting stiched up at A&E at the weekend is possible, it will be junior doctor doing the work. What’s missing are the surgeons and consultants needed to provide more complex emergency care during the night and weekends. I blame this situation on the death of my mother in Addenbrookes, Cambridge years ago.

    Why should NHS staff deserve more of a healthy life style balance that the rest of us, who regularly have to work anti social hours in banking systems support. They still won’t be working 7 hours a week.

    The NHS is broke, when ever I visit there are milling around nurses who don’t have a clue what they are doing. There are these silly appointments when nothing is done, only for you to go back again and again before treatment is actually done.

    There is so much scope for efficiency, and I really hope reforms will succeed. I would much prefer the French system. Hell my wife had her teeth smashed out on holiday, and they were fixed permanently 4 hours later at a dentist on the shores of Lake Geneva in France at a cost less than a UK national health dentist.


    • korhomme
      July 17, 2015

      Most ‘medical’ (as opposed to ‘surgical’) admissions are emergencies. The consultant medical staff will be cardiologists, endocrinologists, neurologists, gastroenterologists etc. All these people ought to be able to diagnose, say, a heart attack. But, today, a heart attack needs specialised angiology and interventions, such as placing a stent. Only the cardiologists can do this. So for a 7-day service perhaps you need 7 cardiologists. That’s fine in a very large teaching hospital; but for the average, largish, district general hospital 7 is too many for the total workload; perhaps 3 or 4 are enough. Just how does Mr Hunt expect this circle to be squared?


      • cartertheblogger
        July 18, 2015

        Interestingly, Hunt is acknowledging that the NHS is changing to address all of these concerns. Here in the debatable lands we have a new specialist emergency hospital that does all the critical emergency work for an area of 3500 square miles – a change that was possible under existing NHS practices and terms and conditions. What was required was not rhetoric but investment – the cash to make it possible.


    • cartertheblogger
      July 18, 2015

      In France they spend 11.6% of GDP health, in the UK it’s 9.6% of GDP. Nationally, you get what you pay for, and in the UK we’d be far better off focussing on that than on constant systemic tinkering.


      • jemima2013
        July 19, 2015

        It seems very odd for a tory to say they want the french system. I assume Elrond would be happy to pay french levels of tax and have french working condtions? Also arbitrary decision, your insulting comment about nurses not knowing what they were doing. Show me a medical qualification of be blocked from commenting in future


        • elrond
          July 20, 2015

          I have no medical qualification, just an impression from visiting hospitals and being told multiple confusing stories by the staff, finding the medical staff have mixed up the patients I have visited, being told the patient will be released the next day and finding they are not for another week. No one you can contact easily, no one who knows what’s going on. The patient in this case has dementia, so doesn’t know what’s happening.

          The NHS is broke. My wife had Xrays last week. She is going in again to have them done again. They were lost.

          My uncle went in to another hospital this month for ECG tests. He had to go again, and of course they had no access to the records, didn’t know what tests had already been run, so they had all to be run again.

          Sorry my experiences of hospitals has not been great. I just hope the appointment I have for myself soon goes well, date changed 3 times already.

          This to me is not about money, but incompetent systems. Getting those systems right will save so much money and time.

          I have more faith in private enterprise in getting this correct than the status quo. Why, because you get these efficiencies you increase the profit and reward. You fail and the business goes elsewhere.

          Yes as a Tory I ( though I vote Green and Lib Dem) I would pay more where its deserved.


          • cartertheblogger
            July 22, 2015

            You’ll think it unseemly of me, but I giggled when I read your response. I know, a grown man giggling.
            The legacy of every effort to apply private sector systems to the NHS is waste; colossal, unmanageable waste as overpaid consultants try to create omnibus systems that cannot cope with the demand placed upon them. All too often they listen to a well heeled vocal minority who treat every minor inconvenience as if it is of the same status as a blue light emergency. The result is complex front ends to systems that make the back office much harder to manage.
            I’m sorry about your inconveniences, and about your experiences that led you to believe the NHS made the treatment of your loved ones worse than it should have been. That doesn’t excuse the logical error of generalizing from the specific.


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This entry was posted on July 17, 2015 by in Uncategorized.

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