Category: Health

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“I cried today in hospital. I did not cry for me.”

David Nicholas Wilkinson

Award-winning film-maker David Wilkinson discovered very recently that he had stage 4 bowel cancer. He has been sharing his experience on Facebook with his friends and admirers, of whom there are very many, including the team here at WCV. We asked if we could publish this post. We believe it’s especially important as we approach […]

The doctor won’t see you now

Anthea Simmons

“It’s a scandal worse than the Post Office Horizon debacle,” says the retired consultant radiologist who contacted me, urging West Country Voices to look into the use of Physician Associates in the NHS. Plenty of us think we know what’s going on in the NHS. We’ve seen the charts detailing the systematic underfunding. We’ve read […]

Sick note Britain: really, Prime Minister?

Emma Monk

In mid-April 2024, the Prime Minister got himself a juicy front cover on the Daily Express: PM tells sick Note Britain: Get a grip and get a job. He then put out a thread on X (formerly Twitter) claiming “We now spend £69bn on benefits for people of working age with a disability or health […]

Remodelling primary care: an uphill struggle

Sophie Olszowski

In the bleak landscape of today’s NHS, a ground-breaking service in a Somerset GP practice is seeing patient and staff satisfaction running at unprecedented highs while reducing pressure on local hospitals. Why, then, is it closing at the end of May, after only four months, and what does the future hold? The GP Urgent Assessment […]

Repainting a house that’s on fire: an open letter to Rishi Sunak

Iratus Ursus Major

Mr Rishi Sunak, Good afternoon. As I brace myself for my own experiences with the NHS later this afternoon, I couldn’t help but mull over the implications of your latest proposal regarding mental health and fit notes. This latest proposal of yours seems to have spectacularly missed the mark, which to be fair, is how […]

Don’t let TV soaps make Covid reality a casualty

Jane Stevenson

A recent episode of the hospital drama Casualty misrepresented the very serious risks that Covid still poses. Jane Stevenson wrote to the BBC to explain just how wrong they’d got it. On Saturday 9 March, an episode of Casualty was broadcast, “Trauma”, which created a lot of upset. After reading a robust Twitter/X post by […]

Somerset cuts and the cost of care: a story of defunding and privatisation that is replicated right across the country

Mick Fletcher

In 2021, I wrote about the dangerous dowry left to the new Somerset unitary authority by the previous Conservative council. The combination of an unwanted reorganisation and a systematic failure to invest in local services had left Somerset especially vulnerable to financial crisis. The warning of trouble ahead was all too correct. In November 2023, […]

Physician associates – letter to the editor

Editor-in-chief

Dear Editor Re: Physician Associates I am writing to give my perspective on the role of physician associates( PAs).  I am a recently retired Consultant Physician who was  involved in the initiation of a PA programme in Devon over 10 years ago. Workforce planning in the NHS is notoriously difficult and an issue that central […]

Without migrants, we wouldn’t have the NHS

Jon Danzig

Our NHS would collapse without migrants. Almost 20 per cent of the staff in NHS England are from overseas. Out of 1.5 million NHS staff in England, around 265,000 reported a non-British nationality as of June 2023. That’s 45,000 more than the previous year. What’s more, since Brexit, data indicates that the proportion of EU citizens working for the […]

Johnson’s Covid Inquiry evidence: what to look out for

Dr Dan Goyal

Before Johnson gives his evidence we should consider a few things: 1. Just how bad was the UK pandemic response?2. How much could Johnson have affected this?3. What was Johnson’s intent?4. Was there any overt maleficence? 1. How did the UK perform?Badly. For many in the wider public, it will be quite obvious that the UK did very badly indeed. […]

What it’s actually like to be me

Joe Hardy

This piece is probably going to be long and heavy because I’m going to detail exactly what it’s actually like to be me and all the things that I am reliant on others for that might not be particularly obvious from just reading my tweets. Here we go. I was born almost three months early […]

‘If volunteers went on strike, half the country would collapse’ – The Crafty Fox Cafe’n’Hub on the Foxhole Road

Anthea Simmons

I ran into Robbie while campaigning for the South Devon Primary. Robbie’s controlled anger and frustration with the current state of affairs was mirrored in a democracy meter filling up with the stickers that represented people’s view of the current government – not positive. At all. A resident of this rather run-down estate, she explained […]

Save Seaton Hospital!

Editor-in-chief

Why this petition matters The petition was started by Seaton resident, Martin Shaw, who explains why it’s needed: The Seaton area community paid half of the cost of building the Hospital in the 1980s. The NHS agreed to own and run it with NHS services for the local community. In 1991, a new wing was […]

The week in Tory…it’s an absolute casserole

Russ In Cheshire

I apologise, but try as I might, I can’t find any material for #TheWeekInTory. Only kidding. It’s an absolute casserole. Let’s down a pint of absinthe and get stuck in. Also – trigger warning. [Contains strong language] 1. We begin with the Covid inquiry, which revealed the shocking news that everything we all knew three years […]

Where are we with Covid and flu, as we go into winter?

Emma Monk

In October 2023, the BBC published an article titled Changing Nature of Covid: Is it just a regular winter bug now? The TL/DR (too long; didn’t read) answer is ‘No. It really isn’t’. That’s not what the article would lead you to believe. It caused a lot of comment on social media, with some wanting […]

Virtual Ministers…

M I Birtwhistle

Greetings, South-westerners! Now you see him… The news that Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Health, was meeting the Prime Minister for discussions about the NHS refutes the widespread belief, supported by the press and social media, that he is a Virtual Minister.   Virtual Ministers are the result of a dire shortage of genuine […]

The problem with the NHS? Capacity!

Dr Dan Goyal

The problem with the NHS is very simple: there isn’t enough capacity. There aren’t enough GPs, hospital doctors, nurses, physios, OTs, lab techs, radiographers, etc. We currently have less hospital bed capacity than Mexico. We have the second lowest in Europe.  On all metrics, the UK is way behind comparative nations and no where near […]

What the change to cancer targets means

Dr Dan Goyal

The change to cancer targets is a big deal! The issue is the 28-day to diagnosis versus the 2-week wait target. That is, if your GP suspects cancer, from the point of referral, 75 per cent of patients should be diagnosed or given the all clear in 28 days. Currently, if your GP suspects cancer […]

Saving the UK’s social contract – starting with the NHS

Mark E Thomas

Even on the 75th anniversary of its foundation, the NHS came under assault from the far-right. This article tackles the claims of its detractors and shows how a team of volunteers has taken the argument to Parliament to defend the NHS – and the UK economy. The assault on the NHS When the NHS was […]

Battling body image

Oli Smith

Leader of the Men’s Mental Health group at his school, year 12 student, Oli Smith, candidly shares his own struggle with body image and the impact sport has had on this, including his experience of anorexia. He also offers advice for anyone struggling with the same issues. Body image is a major focus point which […]

The Covid inquiry raises bigger questions about criminality

Dr Dan Goyal

Monday was another damning day for the government at the Covid Inquiry. It is becoming clearer what the recommendations from the Inquiry are likely to be… But there is also a bigger question raised about criminality… TUC union, the BMA, the Health Foundation, and The British Red Cross gave evidence. Many of the government defence […]

Sunak’s cynical pay stunt: banks win, working people lose

Richard Murphy

Rishi Sunk has said that this year’s public sector pay awards have been agreed in full but with no new or additional funding to cover them. There is literally no economic sense in this whatsoever. Pay rises of around 6 per cent for education and health have been announced – with there being no room […]