NHS in need of treatment
I T is bad enough suffering with a condition which necessitates a trip to the hospital. To then have to wait months having been referred for a consultation with a specialist can only add to the worry and suffering. Today's news that thousands of patients are waiting too long for routine appointments at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire (UHNS) is disappointing but perhaps not all that surprising. Stories like this are a perennial problem for the NHS and it is crucial that a close eye is kept on the situation to ensure it does not spiral out of control. These latest delays affect patients suffering with everything from eye ailments to conditions of the skin, heart, ear, nose and throat and brain. Almost 10,000 people have been waiting longer than the Department of Health target of being seen within five weeks of being sent to the hospital by their GP. This is a safeguard to ensure treatment begins within 18 weeks of referral. The situation is so pressing that clinicians are being forced to prioritise patients – depending on how much their health is being put at risk by the delays. The problem with this approach is that it leaves those with conditions which aren't perhaps classed as serious – but which are equally important to the sufferers – feeling like second class system as the UHNS fails to deliver the service it is supposed to for them.
H ere in North Staffordshire the problem is made more acute by people's unwillingness to travel outside the area for treatment – preferring instead to wait longer to be seen locally. However, it is understandable that people want to be close to their relatives during treatment surely it is better to be seen sooner rather than later during the consultation process. As budgets continue to tighten this may become a necessity rather than a choice.
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Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013