(because a political post is always going to be written well when I write it with literally 40 minutes to go until midnight)
I’ll try to keep this short because this is evidenced entirely with personal experience, and contains absolutely no research into the subject matter to validate my opinions as anything more than a rambled monologue. I’ll probably write about this in more depth later, but for now I’d like to make a point, then bugger off to watch Superjeenius’ epic let’s play of Persona 4 Golden, if you don’t mind.
With the NHS being shredded from a humanitarian system of protecting the vulnerable members of our society into a political chess piece to be continually sacrificed so a rook can move up a few squares, there’s been a lot of debate about how to ‘fix’ the service. And while doctors’ working hours, the provision of services and contact with GPs are all complex problems that need to be discussed intelligently and sincerely, there’s another issue that I’ve not seen too much coverage of: the need for patients to stop being wankers.
I’ve seen you there, Entitled Patient, sitting in that NHS waiting room at seven on a Friday night, moaning loudly that there’s not a specialist in your tiny Welsh village of 56 people to treat your impressively obscure but ultimately harmless toenail problem that you could have treated at home by not being such a bitch. I see you too, Scaredy Patient, busting through GP doors to beg a receptionist for a cure for your malady as if they were Jesus himself, and you were asking to be cured of leprosy, whereas in reality you just want to buy a bandage for a paper cut on your index knuckle. You’re there too, Loudmouthed Patient, somehow managing to blame Jeremy Corbyn, immigrants and the gays for the fact that you can’t get an aspirin as quickly as you could last week when there were obvously millions fewer foreign socialist sodomites spreading AIDS around your local hospital.
My point is that the NHS works two ways; if we, as patients, want a better service from doctors, nurses and carers, we need to enable them to provide that service. We need to listen to their instructions and follow them, instead of coming back a week later to be told the same thing again after you didn’t do it the first time; we need to accept the practical difficulties of providing a free-on-demand health service to over fifty million people when the only things holding that service together are slashed budgets, strained professionals (who had to study for at least six years to get here in the first bloody place), and a massive array of laminated health and safety cards.
If you like, we have to provide a service ourselves, a National Patient Service. The key part of this service is that implementing it won’t require political manoeuvring, or budget cuts, or increased taxes, but slightly more patience, respect and humanity from all of us. We’re not being treated by machines, remember, but people, who can get tired, and stressed and confused, or can be knowledgable, kind and dependable in equal measure. The NHS isn’t a personal system, where each of us can demand flawless, round-the-clock healthcare, but a system fundamentally designed to help those who need help.
It comes back to one of the golden rules of life: if you stop being a prick, everything gets better.