I admit that it’s not the best way to hook you into this blog, but I honestly reckon the next paragraph will probably make you vomit.
A brief Pulse search on the word ‘pledge’ – which, until the last month, I always thought of as just a cleaning product – reveals countless recent hits, including:
- ‘Labour pledges £2.5bn for overhaul to primary care estate’
- ‘Green party pledges annual £6bn increase in NHS budget till 2030’
- ‘Labour pledges £845m for child mental health services’
- ‘Conservatives pledge to increase GP numbers by 6,000 by 2024/25’
- ‘Labour pledges to train 5,000 new GPs a year’
- ‘Lib Dems pledge to end GP shortfall by 2025’
And so on, literally ad nauseam. I assume, like me, you are utterly sick of this, too.
The only thing we seem to have plenty of, other than patients, stress and work, is pledges
Not Pulse’s inability to dig out the thesaurus for a pledge-alternative, but the various political parties’ complete inability to stop playing top NHS trumps via increasingly deranged ‘solemn promises’ (dictionary def).
How about a dose of reality, chaps?
Last week, a combination of acute issues of sickness and IT problems on top of the chronic issues we’ve all been suffering for as long as we can recall meant, in effect, the work environment comprised the following: no drugs, no appointments, no working telephones, no ability to send off referrals, no staff, no prospect of recruiting new doctors, no available staff to fill PCN roles, no outpatient appointments and no time to have a pee.
The only thing we seem to have plenty of, other than patients, stress and work, is pledges.
And every time I hear one, a little bit of what’s left of my vocational commitment to the NHS dies.
At the moment, I have no idea how to vote, not even if I think tactically, because I’m so frazzled that I can’t work out what tactic I want any more.
What might swing it for me is someone telling the truth, which is that the NHS will not be saved by short term headline-grabbing policies or tired and unrealistic long term guarantees: we’re fed up of being promised the earth while all we get is the same old s**t.
Instead, how about a politician being honest and admitting that what the NHS can realistically offer, and how it can be funded, requires a radical rethink?
Do that, and they might win me over. Just don’t call it a pledge.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/copperfield or follow him on Twitter @doccopperfield