Once again across the UK winter has provided the perfect storm for the NHS to be plunged into chaos.
Here in Northern Ireland we have experienced A&E being inundated with emergency and non-emergency patients to the point where people have had to wait inordinately long periods of time to see a doctor and receive treatment.
For those that have been priority cases the chances of being allocated a bed in a ward have been very few and far between.
We look to our politicians and civil servants to provide the answers and give direction as to how we are going to deal with this situation for the betterment of all.
There can be no quick-fix solution to a scheme that was designed in the 1950s for less than 20 million people and now has in excess of 60 million, but there are ways that the situation can be helped. With the call for 600 nurses from overseas perhaps the time’s right to make some radical decisions which will not only have a short term effect but achieve long term goals.
Such decisions could centre around the implementation of nursing apprenticeships rather than having a three or four year degree course which are cost prohibitive and lead to youngsters leaving midway due to financial restraint.
On this note as a long-term strategy why not have all medical degree courses paid for by the government in return for a time applied commitment from the candidate this would undoubtedly ease the pressures on manpower and in the long term be financially beneficial by not having to pay agencies exorbitant amounts of NHS funds to cover the shortfall in staffing levels.
On a final note why don’t the government mobilise the Armed Forces to help cover the shortfall during times of acute stress upon the service?
There are hundreds of trained personnel who could be mobilised and there are fully equipped medical centres and field hospitals that have the potential to be utilised at short notice which could provide the sticking plaster that is required.
I suggest that lateral thinking has not been applied and if it had the situation could have been extinguished and moved forward.
Surely the answer cannot be to pour more millions of tax payers money into a bottomless pit in the hope of some temporary respite.
K. J. Turner, Connor