My recent adventures have left me with a greater appreciation of the need to relieve the pressure on the NHS. When I went home the ward I was on was closed to new admissions. They were so short staffed that if something went wrong then they could not have coped. They set things up so that they minimised the effort required to look after the patients they had. One of the things they did was move the patients around so the ones who were most likely to need attention were together. The nurse in charge had to stand her ground with a doctor who wanted a bed for a patient who was waiting in accident and emergency.
They were supposed to have a number of admissions from theatre that day and I never saw anyone come up from theatre before I went home. It is quite possible that they cancelled those operations because the ward could not accept new admissions. The crazy thing is that the first date that I had been given for surgery was on that date then they moved it twice and then I ended up going home on the day that they closed the ward to new admissions.
I realised that thanks to the grace of God organising a series of dates for surgery I was manoeuvred out of the way of a possible problem. However, there were other people on the waiting list for surgery who would have been affected by the cancellation of the surgery they were expecting including people who were told that surgery was needed to treat cancer.
What can we ordinary mortals to help the NHS?
While I have been convalescing a newspaper has run a campaign that is encouraging people to do voluntary work with the NHS, at least 3 hours a week for a minimum of six months. This is an excellent idea. There were times when I needed help on the ward and to be honest any trustworthy person could do it. For example I could not reach into the locker where my clothes were because of the surgery and anyone fit enough to bend down could get out a clean nightie for me. There are things volunteers can do that relieve the workload of nurses.
There were a couple of times when I went for appointments and I had soup and bread for lunch while I was there. The hospital has a cafe that is run by volunteers. The profits they make are used to benefit patients. There were also volunteers who sat on a chair in strategic places and helped to direct people to where they were going.
However there is more? One of the things that the NHS is doing to try and relieve pressure on itself is to set up smoking cessation services and weight management clinics. The idea being that if it helps people deal with issues that make it more likely that they will become ill then fewer people will become ill.
I wonder what support can we as individuals and community groups can we provide to those who are trying to stop doing things that increase their risk of becoming ill. Does that mean thinking more carefully about healthy eating when it comes to providing refreshments at events? Does that mean encouraging an alcohol-free lifestyle or at least a responsible attitude towards alcohol?
Other more curious ideas
Years ago I went to a teaching weekend with a speaker called Pastor Henry Wright. His premise was that there were certain health issues that could be dealt with by dealing with emotional and spiritual issues like bitterness, self-hatred, guilt and jealousy. What he did was mix the things he had learnt in his pre-medical studies and what he saw in the bible.
It is not difficult to see where he is coming from because how many times do we hear the idea that this illness or that one is either caused or worsened by stress. However his ideas go a bit further than that.
The thing about stress is often we can see the impact of it in frayed tempers as well as in our health issues. Other things are a lot harder to pin down. It is hard to tell someone with an illness that the reason for it is that they are holding onto bitterness. Not only that but people do not always see that they are holding onto bitterness or think that they have dealt with whatever bitterness they have in their lives. It could be a rather aggressive or even accusative approach.
That is why some proponents of this way of improving the health of people teach groups about the how and why to deal with those emotional and spiritual issues. It took me quite a while to recognise that I or even those around me had issues with such negativity. I found that I covered up or just accepted the negativity as normal for me or even for others. Seriously I have to learn that some things are wrong and how to recognise them. However those who take that approach expect those who follow that advice will recover from various medical issues as a consequence.
I wonder what would happen if those who struggled with various illnesses did that kind of course and their health improved? If it did improve then there would be less pressure on the NHS. However, there would be another benefit to the community. Imagine if all this teaching on forgiveness and dealing with bitterness jealousy self-hatred etc. had an impact on community life. Would it make for more harmony and less disagreement?
What can you do?
I wonder if at times my role is to stir people up and make them think what they can do. But in all honesty what can you do. One thing that can be done is run training sessions and in order to do that people need materials that they can use. Think of the videos and study notes that we have long used as teaching materials in the community. I wonder are you someone who could create such materials or test them when they are in their early stages so that they could be improved. Or you someone who could gather a group together and use the training materials others have provided. It would not matter if it was weight management, smoking cessation, cleaning up your emotional life so that it was not so toxic and did not impact your physical health quite so severely.
Could you do more to take care of your own physical health or that of your family? Could you encourage those community groups you are a part of to take a more responsible attitude towards good health? Could you develop a community gardening project that would make it easier for people to access good quality food? That community gardening project could also help people get more exercise and improve their mental health.
There are many ways that we can do something to improve our own health and that of those around us and so take the pressure off the NHS. The thing is working out what we can actually do. It is really easy to say relieving pressure on the NHS is a big issue and then say it is so big that we cannot do anything about it. We might not be able to do something that will impact a 1000 patients but we can do something that will impact 10 and that 10 will help overall. In fact if 100 communities did something that meant that 10 less people needed treatment from the NHS then that would be 1000 less people needing treatment.
What we can do as individuals or even communities will not solve all the problems of the NHS but it will help. Not only that but it will improve the lives of those around us and make for a happier and healthier community which cannot be a bad thing.
Something to think about
God's Lily Training is as I write this preparing to run a pilot of its Core Training Programme. The idea behind it is to help people work out what they could do to change the world for the better and then help them develop a prototype. If you want to know more about this programme then click the button below and it will take you to the enrolment page.