We are in spring, which is hardly a notorious time for the NHS. Yet over the Easter weekend, there were reports of trusts calling in GPs to help on ward rounds.
Sadly, this doesn’t feel like the big story it once would have been. Something that is always at the back of my mind when discussing the current state of general practice is whether anything can actually be done. I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that even addressing the problems in general practice won’t actually solve them while it continues to operate in a wider system that gets that bit worse every year.
Every year, GPs, secondary care doctors, the BMA and trust managers issue dire warnings about the coming winter (and, nowadays, spring/summer/autumn too). Every year, Government-friendly newspapers argue after the event that these warnings were overblown, that the NHS is still there.
But in reality, the system is getting worse every year. There is no single event that will be studied by future generations as the moment that the NHS collapsed. In the past, we may have felt that, for example, the army being called in or ambulances waiting outside hospitals would be this Berlin Wall moment, but these have passed without much comment.
What will continue to happen is that care will get that little bit worse, there will be a greater number of unavoidable deaths every year, medical staff – especially GPs – will be working beyond their competence that bit more.
This is of course true for general practice, but it is equally true for secondary care and it will be impossible for one to turn this around without the other. But I can’t see this happening. So here is to the NHS’s worst summer ever (until the next one).
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org