What you and I can do to help shape a new and responsive NHS

Our hard pressed staff in the NHS need our help and support now. Many of us can take more responsibility for safeguarding and improving ourselves.

A report being considered by the Liverpool Health & Wellbeing Board indicates an improved satisfaction rate from patients for Liverpool GPs despite the problems of the pandemic.

I asked for the report to be written and I was surprised but pleased at this improvement. Anecdotally we hear of people not being able to see their GP as often as they like, but in practice people are getting more used to a new system of health assessment which can meet many of their medical needs.

Take my own small example. In the summer I had a stomach problem. I rang my GP practice at 9.30 and received a call back from a doctor at 11.00 who gave a diagnosis, sent a prescription to my local chemists and told me that if the problem persisted, I would be physically seen. At 11.45 I picked up the tablets and swallowed the first two.

I think that this was a much better service than previously where I might have had to go to a waiting room, the next day unless I had phoned early, and sit in a waiting room with a lot of sick people! It also meant that the GPs spent less time with me which meant that they could spend more time with people who had a serious illness.

At the meeting I will be calling for the Council and the NHS to start a dialogue with the people of Liverpool about new ways in which the NHS can work with the community. This would mean some changes in the NHS for example putting more pharmacies in the High Street and giving those pharmacies more to do.

It would mean the Government reassessing their immigration policy. The NHS is currently flying in people from Greece and Spain to provide support to health and care providers. Many of them are people who used to live here but were excluded by our post-Brexit policies. It’s costing us more to put them up and bring them in and out in addition to their pay than we used to pay them in total.

 It would also mean putting a greater resource into groups such as carers groups who do so much to keep people with medical conditions safe and as healthy as possible. People who both as family and friends provide support for people with a wide range of medical issues such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia provide loving care for their friends and relatives and save the Government a fortune.

These were the services that were cut first by the Government who could not understand that spending small amounts on this proactive work would actually save a lot of money up stream.

But we can help as well. In the short-term all of us can be more demanding of ourselves and those around us. Wearing a mask isn’t a badge of shame but a sign of service and care for others. Getting vaccinated isn’t allowing Bill Gates to put some sort of spyware in your body but a way of safeguarding your life and those that you love.

The current estimate is that that 80% of people who are in ICUs are not vaccinated. That means that not only are they risking their lives, but they are also threatening the lives of others who cannot get into surgery because the hospitals are full.

In the long-term we must also change our ways. We will need to be more accepting of new techniques including triaging our conditions by phone or Zoom. Do we really need to see a GP when we can get a lot of advice from our local chemist who are trained to understand and treat a range of minor conditions?

We could all  keep ourselves healthier and those not creating a demand on health services by eating better, not smoking, drinking less and taking more exercise.

Can we just go to bed with some proprietary brand such as Night Nurse or a warm drink and some paracetamol? That’s easier for some than others. If we live in a house with someone else, we can take turns to be the nurse or patient. For people who live by themselves it’s more tricky.

One good thing that has come out of the pandemic is a rapid increase in these diagnostic methods which speed up delivery for the public and reduce the pressure on our seriously overworked GPs and their staff.

Liverpool’s GPs are making it clear that despite the pressures they want to physically see as many people as possible whilst coping with a huge vaccination workload. I am saddened that they and their staff are being insulted about not giving attention and appointments which they just do not have the staff to provide.

The NHS workforce has been run almost into the ground and is being kept going by people who are getting to the end of their levels of endurance. It’s your job and mine to support them and thank them, not slag them off. I will very publicly thank them tomorrow. If you really care about the NHS you can do something to help it by taking more responsibility for your own health.

The full report can be seen on the agenda for the Liverpool Health & Wellbeing Board which will be taking place at 3.30 on Wednesday 15th December at the Town Hall. The full report and others can be seen on the agenda of the Liverpool Health & Wellbeing Board which can be found on the website of the Council under Committees.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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