The NHS is coming under increasing pressure to reduce over-medicalisation and treatments. More money needs to be saved, and therefore doctors have named procedures that bring little or no benefit. Here are some of them, and I must say a lot of these are just common sense:
- Women over 45 do not need a blood test to diagnose the menopause.
- Chemotherapy may be used to relieve symptoms of terminal cancer, but it cannot cure the disease.
- For children with chronic constipation, changes to diet and lifestyle should be considered first before any medication.
- Back pain which is uncomplicated, usually does not require imaging.
- Tests and investigations should only be done to answer a specific question, rather than routinely.
- Unless a patient is at risk of prostate cancer because of family history, having a PSA test does not lead to a longer life.
- Electronic monitoring of a baby’s heart during labour should not be offered routinely unless the mother is at a higher risk of complications than normal.
- Unless the mother has diabetes, ultrasound scans do not need to be used to check the size of a baby.
- If a patient takes a statin, there is no need to routinely check cholesterol levels unless there are added risk factors such as heart disease or stroke.
- When patients are particularly frail in the last year of life, discuss decreasing their medications to those only used for control of symptoms.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges says there is evidence that patients often pressure doctors into prescribing or carrying out unnecessary treatments, and for some time now GP’s have been advised to cut back on prescribing antibiotics to patients.
I agree with all of these ways of saving money, and also agree that antibiotics are being used too frequently. We need to let the body’s immune system kick in for sore throats, colds and flu. The menopause will happen sooner or later if you’re a woman over 45, and constipation in children (and adults for that matter) can be rectified with a diet rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables. Thank goodness somebody somewhere has an ounce of common sense!
Also, an article by Nick Triggle, Health Correspondent, on the BBC News app goes on to say that thousands of patients taken to hospital by ambulance face long delays before being seen by accident and emergency staff. Data obtained by Labour showed the number of waits of more than an hour had nearly trebled in two years. NHS bosses blamed an increasing demand. A UNISON staff member said the delays were caused by an extreme lack of funding across every part of the NHS, and because A&E units were simply ‘overwhelmed’.
There were 76,000 waits of over an hour in 2015 – 16, up from 28,000 in 2013 -14. The number of waits of more than 30 minutes for an ambulance rose by 60% over the same period, and ambulances made 4.7 million journeys to A&E units last year.
Whether the NHS is crumbling around us, it is not for me to say. However, I will give 2 incidences of when I have had to call an ambulance. One was in 2011, and the other one happened just over a week ago.
Sam and I went out for a St. Valentine’s Day dinner in 2011. He decided to order lobster soup, simply because he had never eaten it before. Within half an hour he began to talk gibberish, and then passed out in the chair. When he came round he said he felt sick. Two burly waiters got him to the toilet just in time, and then he felt better.
Meanwhile I had called an ambulance. The person on the other end of the phone asked me if Sam was breathing. I confirmed that yes, his breathing was fine. She then informed me that there might be a bit of a wait. In fact the ambulance never arrived at all, and I ended up driving Sam’s company car (for which I’m not insured) to the hospital myself, where we waited for 3 hours in the waiting room before he was taken into Triage. Doctors could not find a cause for his reaction. He has never eaten lobster soup since!
Compare this to recently. My mother, 92, started displaying signs of a mild stroke. I called in the senior carer, who confirmed my suspicions. The senior carer called the paramedics, who arrived within 5 minutes. The paramedics then needed a better ECG than their equipment was able to give. They called through for an ambulance, and one arrived within minutes. Ambulance staff did the ECG, and then took Mum to hospital, where she was wheeled through a totally full waiting room straight into Triage. Within 2 hours she had a bed in the stroke ward, where she still remains.
I cannot fault the NHS on this latest occasion at all. I know others will have their own stories, but I just thought I’d give the good old NHS a little boost in its darkest days.