The NHS – Open 7 days a week?

There has been much comment of late that the NHS is already a 7 day a week service and the Nasty Tories just don’t know what they’re talking about

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with all their plans to make doctors work 27 hours a day and 8 days a week. If anything, I feel like the issue has been turned into a Monty Python sketch where a group of crusty northern types exaggerate the privations of their youth for comedic effect.

So what?

I was recently enjoying the dubious pleasure of visiting an NHS hospital on a Saturday morning (germs, germs), I had taken a family member in for a scan, when I overheard a very interesting telephone conversation. Now I could only hear the receptionist’s side of the conversation but what I did hear was most illuminating.

The caller (and I have patched together what they were saying through the process of deduction) had called in to discover the date of an urgently needed scan on a body part. The receptionist informed the caller that no such appointment had been made (Computer says no) and a scan would not take place until he was referred to the scanning unit by a doctor. The caller then asked to be put through to the hospital department where he was being treated to expedite the issue of a referral for a scan. That’s when the faecal matter hit the air conditioning unit. The caller had to be told several times that while the hospital was open, and the scanning unit being open at all times, the all important department that could request the caller’s scan was closed all weekend. The caller would have to wait until Monday to chase up the missing referral to the scanner unit.

I got the impression that the caller was not very happy with this answer, probably because they’d heard from so many NHS staff and supporters that the NHS is already a 7 day a week service.

This highlighted something that I, and I suspect many others, already knew. Parts of the NHS are open 7 days a week but they are the exception not the rule. Most of the staff are not on duty during the blessed days of Saturday and Sunday. And woe betide you if you find yourself in the clutches of the NHS, needing more than a patch up job, and it’s the weekend.

Perhaps the Nasty Tories are right, maybe we do need a truly 7 day a week service from the NHS.

PS You might be thinking that I was earwigging illegally and should not have been hovering around the receptionist like some kind of loathsome addict to human suffering. I wasn’t. I was sat at a considerable distance from the reception desk and, like everyone else in the waiting area, was able to hear the receptionist as if she were sitting right next to me. Only earplugs would have prevented me from being an unwilling participant in the conversation.

PPS I have deliberately not included any details that would identify the patient to protect their privacy.

One response on “The NHS – Open 7 days a week?

  1. Fantastic article! I so appreciate your thinking! And I agree with others up thread that you deserve a wider audience. I hope you submit your work to other media outlets.

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