The past century has brought some of the most spectacular health advances in human history and the birth of the NHS in 1948 improved the nation’s health by improving access to health care.
The NHS continues to be highly regarded across the world but some of the health gains we have achieved in the UK are now at risk due to increasing pressures on front line health workers who fee increasingly overworked, overstressed and undervalued.
Politicians and health service manager readily promise patient choice and continual improvement in health services on the one hand but impose overambitious plans for restructuring of community health services, to make financial savings, with the other hand.
There has been little involvement of the general public or family doctors in the development of the Department of Health’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans.
The running tap of ill health needs to be slowed by putting families and communities at the centre of planning, so the local community can own and sustain their health services.
The concept of Universal Health Care requires everyone to have access to affordable health care as near to their homes as possible.
Such health care is best grown by community members so that the people themselves become empowered to prevent, diagnose and treat the majority of their problems.
In resource poor countries this has meant involving community leaders in health care initiatives because of the paucity of medical professionals.
In the UK, health planners are beginning to make strategic plans to navigate patients away from community health workers, away from hospital departments and to reduce hospital admissions to a minimum.
The rational for this is there is a shortage of primary care health workers and hospital care is particularly expensive.
The problem with this approach is that the general public have not been sufficiently involved with the plans, the primary care workforce is falling and the population is ageing.
In short, it will become for more difficult for patients to access medical and nursing care and pressures on social care will significantly increase.
I would therefore like to encourage more members of the public to become engaged with their surgery Patient Participation Groups (PPGs), which allow patients to gain an additional insight into their practice and to make suggestions.
Patient Representatives liaise between the practice and patients.
All Bridlington Practices have a PPG, although at Practice 2 it is called a Health Champions Group.
Patients may access their PPG by asking at their practice’s reception desk. Wolds View surgery also has a PPG post box in the waiting room.
Dr Harris and Partners, otherwise known as Practice 3, has a “Meet the PPG” event on Friday 4 August from 9am to 11am and I urge interested patients from this practice to drop in to the medical centre at that time.
I would also like to encourage patient involvement in the Bridlington Health Forum (contact Jean Wormwell on 01262 602084), the Pensioners Action Group (also 01262 602084) and the Clinical
Commissioning Group (01482 650700).
Please contact councillors and politicians concerning local health issues at every opportunity.