By Catherine Ross
I am the eldest of three sisters. I am incredibly proud of my siblings.
The eldest of my sisters will be 30 this year. She is an intensive care nurse in Hereford and has two delightful daughters. My youngest sister is just about to graduate from the University of West England as a radiographer. She has already been offered a job at a hospital in Bristol, where she has been completing her work placements.
My sisters are smart and funny. They’re generous and kind. I am fortunate to have family I would choose to spend time with. I was particularly honoured, therefore, that they both took the trouble to come across for my birthday at the weekend. It was a wonderful weekend of picnics and barbecues and catching up.
With two sisters working in healthcare, it is natural I suppose that sooner or later the conversation should turn to the NHS.
My sisters – those good, kind, smart women – are fed up with the NHS being bashed by the media. They’re sick of reports about how nurses are uncaring and the health system is on the brink. They have both seen at first had the pressure being heaped upon our NHS. They have experienced and see their colleagues struggling to meet the demands of a healthcare system that has been meddled with and messed about and underfunded.
They speak of colleagues working tirelessly to keep their patients alive and help them get better then read news reports of nurses failing to provide sufficient care. As one of my sisters put it “we might not be able to make time to sit and have a chat, but we are keeping these people alive and helping them go home. Isn’t that more important?”
The NHS has been told to make £20billion of “efficiency savings” and healthcare bosses are fairly unanimous in their concern that patient care will suffer. Waiting times and treatment rationing are on the increase, yet the blame is directed not at the government, whose meddling, cutting and disrespect for the NHS are actually causing the problems, but at healthcare workers, who are doing an astonishingly difficult job in ever more difficult circumstances.
In addition to the direct cuts, the government has cut local authority spending on social care, a service that often keeps elderly and vulnerable people out of hospital.
Before the last general election, David Cameron promised to “cut the deficit, not the NHS”. Yet three years in, this disastrous government is borrowing ever more money, increasing the deficit and still failing to protect the NHS. It just got personal, Mr Cameron. No one upsets my sisters and gets away with it.