Star comment: Crisis management has become the norm in NHS

People seeking appointments feel themselves the victim of a perfect storm.

Access to public services has become increasingly problematic.

As demand rises and supply recedes, we are increasingly responsible for making sensible decisions about contacting doctors, calling ambulances or visiting A&E.

A new survey that says people are being put off booking GP appointments will strike a chord with many people who feel they are increasingly unlikely to get a GP appointment when they need to.

They feel themselves the victim of a perfect storm – more patients seeking help, leading to GPs under more pressure, leading to GPs leaving their jobs, leading to more pressure for the remaining GPs.

While would-be Prime Ministers talk about tax cuts, the NHS is facing a real crisis. This is just one element of our beloved health service that is facing an increased threat.

Crisis management has become the norm and where there was once a particular challenge at New Year, now there are peaks throughout the year, from summer through to winter.

Patients need to have the confidence to know that an appointment will be available if it is needed, without having to take part in a daily lottery of hoping to call at the right time.

There are endless examples of people being kept on hold via an answerphone message, or having to tackle a complicated switchboard. Considerable confusion and distress are caused through technology, which is particular disheartening for the elderly and vulnerable.

There is, of course, also a responsibility on us all only to bother the GP when necessary. Any family doctor will tell you they are seeing more appointments for trivial ailments.

Get you thimbles out, you may need them if you are to abide with advice from experts on safe drinking limits. They say younger drinkers can measure their safe daily wine intake with teaspoons and beer should be poured into a small shot glass.

It is food for thought – most of us enjoy the odd drink but drink can be a problem for some, ruining lives.

The real message we should take in the real world is that moderation is the key. The odd midweek pint or glass of wine won’t kill us, especially if we also stay fit and eat healthily. Just don’t overdo it or find yourself getting into a habit. That is when the alarm bells should start to ring.

A tipple can be a great joy, though we should operate within our limits and not use drink as a crutch.

The cost to ourselves, our loved ones and the NHS is considerable when a habit develops and dependence kicks in.

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