NHS improved by technology? No, it has lost the human touch and patient care needs a radical rethink

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HOW much do you reckon the NHS spends annually on stamps a decade after it vowed to go post-free?

An eye-watering £210million.

The NHS needs a radical rethink when it comes to patient care

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The NHS needs a radical rethink when it comes to patient careCredit: Getty
Seven million people are arriving at A&E because they can’t see a GP and it is costing the NHS another £2.5billion

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Seven million people are arriving at A&E because they can’t see a GP and it is costing the NHS another £2.5billionCredit: Getty

Meanwhile, the seven million arriving at A&E because they can’t see a GP is costing another £2.5billion.

It sounds like Monopoly money, but this is no game. It’s a national crisis.

Now Labour’s health boss, Wes Streeting, has declared that the NHS needs a total “war on waste” overhaul and that he is the person to do it.

“You can’t just keep on pouring ever increasing amounts of money into a leaky bucket.

“You’ve got to deal with the bucket itself,” he says.

True. But if Labour win power, will he succeed where others have failed?

We were both guests at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards last year and I gave him chapter and verse on my recent NHS experiences (good and bad) with my elderly mother.

He listened intently, replied honestly, avoided the usual political platitudes and promised he was “on it” regarding much-needed NHS reform.

So it’s great to hear him say so publicly.

He is starting with a “red tape efficiency challenge” involving “easy tech solutions” to a lot of the admin problems involving outpatients, and that’s a great start.

But the way that patients are cared for inside hospital needs a radical rethink too.

And for inspiration, Mr Streeting could take a look at the past.

Sun reader Janet Cope has written to tell me about her long career with the NHS, where she started “at the bottom” at 16 and “worked my way up” before retiring at 60.

The hospital had its own Works Department of electricians, carpenters etc under one roof, so “if a lightbulb needed changing, we just filled in a form” and it was quickly fixed.

She recalls there were patient areas — “craft rooms, quiet rooms etc” — and, “We were a family, everyone pull­ed together and the hospital was a very happy place”.

Back in the 60s/70s, the hospital had its own School of Nursing which provided education and practical work experience on site, under the guidance of a permanent ward sister.

School leavers like Janet carried out “tasks NOT requiring a three-year university course — feeding and dressing patients, walking them to the toilet, making their bed comfortable” etc, and therefore leaving more experienced staff to “do the treatment side of things”.

But, she says, when it “went from being an Area Health Authority Hospital to become Trust status, the rot set in”.

They lost the Works Dept, “all those loyal, long-serving employ­ees, to be replaced by outsourcing” which meant it was “several weeks, a meeting, costing, etc before anything was done.”

And the patient areas “were filled with endless, so-called managers, who it seemed had never set eyes on a patient before and never, ever, left their office”.

And now, according to another letter from an anonymous NHS nurse, managers are paying agency nurses “extortionate rates” equating to “three times the hourly rate of an NHS nurse in the exact same role”.

Madness.

Janet, now 83, almost blind and lives alone, adds: “We are told that ‘technology’ has improved the Health Service greatly . . . not so now when patients can no longer speak to a human being with everything being done online.”

That’s the challenge Mr Streeting will face if he gets the chance to implement his plan.

“Easy tech solutions” are fine for the online generation, but personal interaction for those who aren’t computer savvy must be provided too.

And for those being treated on the wards, a return to the days of more nurses and fewer managers is long overdue.


BETTY BROWN is 91 and can remember bombs falling on her native Glasgow in the Second World War.

But it was nothing compared to the grenade that blew up her life when £100,000 went “missing” from the village Post Office she and her now late husband Oswall ran in County Durham.

After being treated “aggressively” by auditors, the Browns used their life savings to address the shortfall, and Betty faced nights of “absolutely shaking, tears, teeth chattering” and “used to get the sheets and stick them between my teeth to try to stop them”.

And now? “This to me was highway robbery  . . . They stole my money. I want my money back.”

It’s utterly shameful she is still waiting for reimbursement. What’s to discuss?

And given the two decades of intense mental stress this law-abiding, hard-working couple endured, there should be significant compensation on top too.


FAILED BY SO MANY

TODDLER Bronson Battersby likely died of dehydration while clinging to his dead father Kenneth’s leg.

When his social worker got no answer on January 2, she contacted the police who have powers to enter the property.

Bronson Battersby was failed by so many in his final days

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Bronson Battersby was failed by so many in his final daysCredit: Facebook

But for reasons that remain unclear, they failed to go round.

She also contacted Bronson’s mother, Sarah Piesse, who hadn’t seen her son since November.

She didn’t go round either, yet now she is “demanding answers”.

And a neighbour heard a child crying “Daddy” in the early hours of New Year’s Day but didn’t check if everything was OK.

The social worker returned on January 4 and alerted the police again.

Still, no one entered the property.

Then, on January 9, the diligent social worker managed to locate the landlady and got her to unlock the door.

What she discovered is a modern-day tragedy, because vulnerable Bronson could have been saved.

And just when you think the story can’t get any worse, it transpires that two days after the bodies were discovered, thieves broke in to the flat and stole Kenneth’s wallet and painkillers.

What has become of this supposedly civilised country?


CAFFEINE-packed energy drinks such as Red Bull raise the risk of sleep problems, says a new research study.

Next week: Bears s**t in the woods.


ALL hail Queen Amanda Holden, whose youthful energy and chutzpah should be bottled and prescribed on the NHS.

Here she is at her daughter Lexi’s 18th birthday party, twerking in head-to-toe sequins behind the DJ booth while assembled teenagers gaze on in open-mouthed admiration.

Amanda Holden's youthful energy and chutzpah should be bottled and prescribed on the NHS

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Amanda Holden’s youthful energy and chutzpah should be bottled and prescribed on the NHSCredit: Instagram
At her daughter Lexi’s 18th birthday party, Amanda twerked behind a DJ booth

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At her daughter Lexi’s 18th birthday party, Amanda twerked behind a DJ boothCredit: Social media – Refer to source
The 52-year-old was also dressed in head-to-toe sequins

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The 52-year-old was also dressed in head-to-toe sequinsCredit: Instagram

What a gal. At 52, what’s her secret?

Not least how she manages to let her hair down quite so spectacularly without one of her daughters grabbing her by the elbow and hissing: “Mum, you’re sooooo embarrassing.”

Trust me, I speak from bitter experience.


FLYING GONGS HOT AIR

WHEN Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s pneumatic fiancee Lauren Sanchez is hailed as a “living legend of aviation” then you know that sanity has truly left the building.

She runs a company that offers aerial filming, and can fly a helicopter herself.

Prince Harry accepted an aviation award this week (Harry with John Travolta, Lauren Sanchez and Jeff Bezos)

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Prince Harry accepted an aviation award this week (Harry with John Travolta, Lauren Sanchez and Jeff Bezos)Credit: Instagram/ John Travolta

But Amelia Earhart she ain’t.

But hey, this is Hollywood, where money and influence reign supreme and, consequently, smoke gets blown up a lot of backsides.

Another being the sphincter of “Prince” Harry (yep, he’s still hanging on to that title) who was also being celebrated by the assembled sycophants paying £1,100 each to be in the presence of such, er, greatness.

Ms Sanchez posted a photo of them together, describing him as one of a group that “shaped the history and future of flight”.

Stop laughing at the back.

Harry served in the military for ten years, did two tours in Afghanistan and, yes, flew in Apache helicopters.

But the pilot was numero uno, and he was the gunner and co-pilot.

Courageous? Yes. Aviation legend? No.

And he knows it too, which makes his acceptance of the award even more embarrassing.


JUST when you thought footballer Kyle Walker’s behaviour couldn’t get any more skanky, it emerges that he cheated on his wife and mistress with a mystery third woman.

What a guy. How on earth did he find the time?

Also, is there a common noun for someone who is ostensibly a mistress to a mistress?

Answers on a dirty postcard please.


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