This article first appeared in the Strathspey & Badenoch Herald and other Scottish Provincial Press publications.
The other day in Inverness I met a former colleague walking briskly in the street, looking very healthy. He told me of his significant heart failure episode some months earlier and of the “outstanding” treatment he’s received at all stages of the medical intervention. Like many, he is blessed by an attentive GP. When the crisis happened, knowledgeable and supporting paramedics attended at his house and, throughout his time in hospital staff at all levels addressed his every need. Likewise, his aftercare continues is a similar supportive fashion.
Another friend recently suffered acute pains in their leg. An early diagnosis, and tailored physiotherapy has ensured they are once again fully active and likewise singing the praises of NHS Highland.
Do these examples mean everything is perfect with our National Health Service, certainly not. However, they illustrate how good the service can be when properly resourced. Key to delivering that quality of service is adequate staffing and planning ahead both in terms of personnel and training.
In addition to ongoing assistance with constituency case work, my Parliamentary colleagues and I meet every couple of months with NHS Highland to receive briefings and discuss major issues of the day.
I am always keen to understand the causes of any problem and what is required to address it.
Some Parliamentary colleagues want to have it all ways, however, they cannot rightly demand autonomy for clinicians but expect Government to intervene on every issue.
Brexit looms large over every aspect of politics from protection of our precious environment to support for our crofters and farmers. Our health service, which relies so heavily on those from elsewhere in the European Union and indeed beyond, does not operate in a vacuum. The employment challenges faced in keeping EU citizens, fearful of being deported following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, are nothing when compared to the challenges of recruiting people to what’s seen a UK increasingly hostile to migrants.
Politicians of all parties have an important role to play in ensuring our NHS, indeed all our public services, are successful. Of course our job is to scrutinise, where appropriate criticise, and praise but it is not to personalise or deflect nor act in a way that suggest that we have anything other than the highest quality of workers in our health service.
So, I advise being wary of politicians with the easy fix for health service recruitment; they either don’t understand or are being misleading.
Health is an important part of my constituency case work and of course there are problems but, my two friends are by no means unique in having enjoyed the full NHS experience. Slàinte!