In the run up to the General Election, according to every newspaper and news report, the National Health Service is in crisis!
Every year, the workload of the NHS peaks in winter. Cases of flu, chest infections, winter vomiting and other bugs increase during the colder months.
Underlying the pressures on the NHS is the simple fact that it must care for an ever-growing and increasingly aged population. The UK population has increased by 4 million in 10 years, to 64 million. Eleven million of us are now over the age of 65, a group which has been growing, and will continue to grow as a percentage of the population, as longevity increases. Elderly people are more likely to fall ill, and more likely to require both urgent and routine healthcare.
It is estimated that around 30 per cent of those who attend A&E could have been treated elsewhere – by a GP, pharmacist, or minor injury unit. However, GPs are facing their own crisis, for many of the same reasons as hospitals: a growing and ageing population, and more long-term ill.
The NHS’s telephone triage service, 111, is thought to be sending more people to A&E or calling out an ambulance more often than the old NHS Direct services.
Have you been affected by the NHS crisis? What recent experience have you had either with your GP surgery of visiting your local hospital?