Thursday, 21 June 2012

NHS action - do you support it?

Today is the day that NHS Doctors in the UK strike due to possible changes to their pensions. Not all doctors are involved in the dispute, and it's fair to say not all agree with the action. Where do you stand?

Personally I support the action today. Mainly due to the fact that it is only 4 years since the last pension changes were agreed and, you have to admit, it does seem as though the poor doctors have been completely short changed. They dealt with it, closed the book, moved on. Now it has been re-opened, with a large increase in not only the percentage required as pension payments but in yet another increase to retirement age also.

Their main argument is that by paying 14% into their pension, they will actually be paying TWICE what other civil servants pay into their pension schemes. Yes there's no doubt that the schemes themselves are very comfortable, but why take a larger sum from one area of employees and not from another? It could almost be viewed as discrimination.

Why is this the case though?

Apparently the 4 year old pension scheme is no longer 'affordable' - I find it hard to understand how pensions become unaffordable to be completely honest. Does anyone know? I mean, pensions are complex things and I have nowhere near enough brain power to figure out what goes on with interest rates and the like, but, surely if someone pays money into a pot then it will still be there waiting for them when they retire? No?

Also, surely the person(s) who drew up the plan 4 years ago should be joining the dole queue? Could they not foresee this happening? Not much of a 'plan'.

Anyway, today's strike action is mainly due to disrupt routine appointments such as GP's and outpatients, however, we all know what will inevitably happen - A&E departments will be over-run with people with headaches, heavy colds etc that couldn't get into their regular GP surgery. They may in fact also phone an ambulance to get them there (as people did in November when the nurses went on strike, no reason could be found for the surge in 999 calls then either).

When I was taken in hospital over Christmas just gone, the waiting room was completely full. The average wait time was 4 hours, unless you were dying a death, I could hear people complaining loudly about their wait yet they seemed perfectly well in themselves, other than coming in with pyjamas and dressing gowns on. I don't understand the mentality of people who go into hospital with minor ailments, that they can easily see their GP for, or wait an extra day. Especially if it means they'll be waiting hours and hours anyway. How unwell can you be if you're prepared to sit in a stuffy waiting room, with vending machine coffee, for hours and hours on end?

'Luckily' for me I went straight into the Assessment ward, on a trolley, with the complementary oxygen mask and all the additional wiring and testing equipment. The nursing staff were fab, as were the doctors, yet you could feel the frustration with the system, all the waiting around that is no doubt what costs the NHS so much. Get the doctor to visit you on his ward rounds, get a pharmacist to prescribe the drugs, get the doctor to sign off the drugs, get a porter to collect the drugs from the pharmacy. Ridiculous!

I guess my point is that if there were more input in the system from the people 'on the floor' then the system would no doubt be improved and costs reduced. Then there wouldn't be constant disputes about pay and pensions etc. All the Directors and administrators pushing paper around their desks not having a clue how to run a hospital, callously culling posts left, right and centre to fund their own tea and coffee funds rather than doing something about the wastage areas, or even acknowledging that anything needs changing except more culling. One day we will realise that there ARE no nurses/doctors in hospitals anymore. Only advisors, directors, suits and then where will we be? It's not so far off you know!

Lynnette Spragg

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