Ross Nursing Services Ltd's snapshot of health and social care in UK
- Credit: DGLimages/Shutterstock
I was a registered nurse for 50 years and I own a domiciliary care company – we provide carers to look after people in their own homes.
It will be obvious to most that there is a crisis in the provision of health and social care, not only in Uttlesford / NW Essex, but in the whole country.
I want to set out my views as the to how we have arrived at this situation and make a couple of suggestions about what might be done to get out of it.
People are crying out for care and are just not receiving it. There is a delicate ecosystem of interdependent providers of care in this country.
GPs, hospitals, nursing and residential homes, district nurses and domicilary care providers all have to work effectively in order to provide care for a growing elderly population, along with those suffering from a variety of chronic illnesses and those needing palliative (end of life) care.
Many GPs have left the profession and those that are left are working frantically to see as many patients as they can. Some areas of the country have little or no GP cover and the same goes for in the dental profession.
People who cannot access GP services in a timely manner are resorting to Accident and Emergency departments and they in turn are overloaded.
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People who are admitted to hospital and who receive effective treatment are not being discharged in a timely manner, as there is a shortage of care in the community.
The whole system is under increasing pressure due to a lack of staff and greater demand for services. Unless solutions are found, it will fail completely.
Unfortunately Brexit led to many foreign workers in the health and social care sector leaving the country and for whatever reason, they have not returned.
Covid and the ensuing lockdowns put the sector under immense additional pressure and the furlough system, whilst meeting a need at the time, led to people being sent home and they too have not returned to their jobs, they are much needed.
This has been exacerbated by the portrayal in the media of care workers as low status and low paid.
My own company offers competitive rates of pay well above the minimum wage and a high standard of training and continued professional development for staff.
Caring is hard work, often required at unsocial hours, but it is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do.
In domiciliary care, you might be the only person a patient sees all day and the difference your care can make is often incalculable.
We still, however, have trouble recruiting staff, along with every other care company in the country as well as the NHS.
So what can be done? As I have said, this is a problem facing the whole of the country and we cannot afford to pay for health and social care and the NHS in its current form.
The elderly population is increasing, the working population, picking up the tab, is decreasing.
Politicians of every ilk shy away from this fact and the inherently short-term outlook of repeated governments has led to tinkering with the system rather than tackling the wider problems.
When the NHS was set up in 1947, nobody envisaged that it would have to cope with the demands we place on it today.
With more complicated operations, new drugs, more people requiring a diverse array of treatments because they are living longer with many layers of disease and illness and now a pandemic.
The bottom line is, a new funding model is required to help put the whole system on a sustainable footing.
We should take the politics out of the equation and get Westminister to set up an all-party commission to examine what needs to be done and to commit to taking the necessary steps to deliver on its findings.
One of the measures that merits serious consideration is a minor charge, say £5 for a visit to a GP, and £10 to visit A&E or an outpatient clinic.
This would eliminate time wasters, those who do not turn up to appointments and those who use hospitals as a pharmacy.