In the first part of this post about Patient First Medicine, I stated that orthodox medicine, as we know it today, "largely" does not work. I used the word "largely" because I do believe that there are areas of modern medicine that are of great value. If I am in a car accident resulting in life threatening injuries, I certainly do not wish to be rushed to a herbalist for treatment. I would rather be taken to a modern hospital and run the risk of being treated by overworked nurses...and on-call surgeons who have been dragged out from their beds in the middle of the night...and in their sleepy haze, are likely to forget their PJs in my body cavity at the point when someone stitches me up...The large part of orthodox medicine that does not work came into existence when the shift began away from cure to symptom management. This brought about the heavy dependence on a drug based medical culture. Symptom management is far more profitable than cure for the big pharmaceutical companies, but that expense is leaching much needed funds away from other areas where they are needed....such as care.
I was recently in a discussion with the wife of one of my cousins over the NHS. She is a lovely,caring, woman who gives her all and her best under great pressure within the NHS. And at the time she seemed to be taking part in a "NHS...Love it of Lose it!" Campaign. I am not here to bash or question the dedication of many of the NHS staff. In contrast, I am writing this to go some way towards changing attitudes that might lead to lasting reform that would make their lives easier in the long run....as well as improve the health and survival rates of patients within the system.
The first step could be achieved by removing a "drugs first" culture, that is totally unnecessary in the bulk of cases and at present is financially crippling the NHS coffers. The lack of funds caused by this massive cash sucking leach of a policy results in the NHS asking incredible feats of endurance from NHS staff. It Is this last point that I would like to focus on first.
As I drive up and down the motorways of Britain I am regularly reminded to Take a Break....Tiredness Kills...or something to that affect. I am a veteran of long hauls over the years. I know what kind of impact tiredness can have on alertness, on reaction times, and on the clarity of decision making. It is a medical fact that tiredness can affect our ability to function. It is a FACT established by the largely accepted authority of medical minds....and yet...the same wife of my cousin, who works within the very cradle of modern medical knowledge, related tales to me of heroic long shifts where there was seldom time for a break....and necessary sustenance, also essential for optimal functioning, was quickly shoved down their throats. It is also medically known that, in times of stress the parasympathetic nervous system, that plays its role in digestion, is superseded by the sympathetic nervous system...meaning, there will be little positive value in the meal taken under such conditions. How is it that we can have such largely contrasting approaches sanctioned by our government. If you are tired behind the wheel of a moving car you are putting other lives at risk.....If you are tired and operating, caring for, or giving out medicines to patients, is it not fair to suggest that you are also putting lives at risk. The headline of last Sunday's The Sunday Telegraph would seem to suggest so...13,000 died needlessly at 14 worst NHS trusts.
In my view, part of the problem is brought about by the long shifts that many of the NHS staff take on. To cover a 24 hour period they have two staff working 12 hour shifts. I have done 12 hours shifts and if you are constantly under pressure, they can be a great strain on your ability to function at your best. It seems to me the justification to have two staff work 12 hour shifts to cover a 24 hour period rather than 3 staff work 8 hour shifts to cover a 24 hour period (a shift more conducive to alertness) is to save money. The third member of staff will incur extra costs in benefits etc. But if having three members of staff would improve performance in our NHS so that the recent headlines in the Telegraph would become a thing of the past, why not do it? Simply because, there are not enough funds. The funds needed to improve the performance in this area are being eaten up by the massive, unnecessary drug bill that is starving the NHS as a whole.
In what will probably be my final blog on this theme, I will offer proof why there is a need to reform the system...and offer up my vision of medicine in the future.
Health and Happiness
The Green Man