I was talking to Natalia the other day about our experiences with the NHS care for children, and we both felt that our GPs did not have much of a clue about children’s health, that they were not properly looked at (clinically), and that most of the times, our concerns were dismissed, or not heard.
First, let me say, that I love the NHS, I think it is amazing that there is such good public care, and I understand that because this is the case, many times we don’t have access to other ‘luxuries’ I could get in Argentina, like for instance, being able to call my paediatrician by mobile phone when I have a query. Because in Argentina I pay for this very expensive, private, care. And this means that you get what you can pay, which I think it is an awful way of thinking about something as basic as health care. This, however, does not mean that I don’t feel that there are many problems, inconsistencies, and disorganisation within the NHS, which now that I have a daughter, sometimes scares me.
Today, I read an article in the Guardian online, which underlined some of these problems, which are probably bound to be made worse with the cuts and changes that this government is planning. Reading the confirmation of our fear is not a nice way to start the morning, I can tell you.
This article shows how a study by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), has flagged up a very serious shortage of consultants, and a need to better organise children’s units to deliver safe care. Scarily, data from the college shows that
‘a third of the 220 children’s units in the UK are not compliant with the EU working time directive. Doctors are forced to work longer than 48 hours, trainees – albeit senior trainees working to become consultants – are left in charge, locums are having to be employed and consultants end up having to stay overnight unexpectedly in the hospital because there is no one else.’
One of the reasons for these problems is, guess what? under-investment.
‘Under-investment in children’s services is partly to blame. The number of children arriving in accident and emergency has gone up by 12% since 2009 – now almost 4 million children a year, a quarter of all visits – possibly because GPs no longer routinely do their own out-of-hours cover. And a surprisingly low proportion – 37% – of GPs has done any training at all in paediatrics. In many other countries children are not taken to a GP but to a paediatrician.’
The problems, however, are not only in emergency care, but also in routine care, and it shows how diabetes is not well controlled, and cancer symptoms are not picked up soon enough, which means there is less possibility of chidlren surviving.
I find the fact that the majority of GPs have not had any training in paedriatric shocking in one way, but on the other it unfortunately resonates with my experience.
Children, as Prof Sir Ian Kennedy is quoted saying, are not a priority within the health service.
Something you can do: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/Protect_our_NHS_Petition#petition