If you would like to comment on the "What has Labour done for the NHS?' programme, first broadcast on Sunday, 20 February 2005, please click here to find the e-mail form.
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Comments submitted may also be used for a BBC News 24 discussion of this programme at 19:30 GMT on Monday 21 February 2005.
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Why are you only looking at England - are you aware of the inequality between England and Wales - in Wales many patients are waiting over 18 months for routine appointments - Strategic Health Authorities in the borders run dual lists - I understand there are no cancer minimum waits in Wales - by devolving new labour is offering the welsh a second class service.
Elaine Taylor-Whilde, UK
I would like to congratulate you on tonight's programme which was thought-provoking and balanced. Well done! As a manager in the NHS I waited with trepidation to see what you would say but felt that you covered the subject well.
Grant Addison, Bristol, UK
In my hospital the doctors and nurses work hard the bed managers just are not cost effective all they do is make sure the figures look good not looking after patients.
Anonymous, Leeds, West Yorkshire
The worst delay is the initial wait to see a consultant, who then orders tests followed by another wait, after tests another delay to see him again until an operation is ordered. You are not even on a waiting list. In the USA a back operation is 90% successful, only 70% here. Why? Because the quicker done the more successful. It will have taken the best part of a year for a back op as opposed to two weeks in the USA and six weeks in France.
D Keating, UK
The real issue has to be there is simply not enough money going in one end to make a tangible difference at the other. Therefore fire-fighting continues endlessly with no sight of preventative measures being put in to practice, as who knows who will be in power in 10 years to reap the benefits.
Nadim Butt, Stafford
Speaking as a student nurse, I have to say that while there's a lot to criticise about the way Labour has handled the NHS, I think that on a scale of pluses and minuses the NHS is in much better shape than it would have been had the Tories been in power for the past 7 years. On the issue of privatised treatment centres, obviously if that reduces waiting lists then that's a good thing, though in some cases one wonders if the money paid to the treatment centres couldn't have been simply given to existing NHS services.
I feel most of the problems come because we and the whole country expect to much from everything, we are all living above our means but no political party dare say that.
Mr Ivan Collins, UK
The focus should be on preventing ill-health (see Government White Paper: Choosing Health). I am glad to hear however, the programme discuss the clear fact that treatment is becoming more expensive. This is unavoidable. How else can we introduce new treatments? It seems that the public rightly expect good standards of healthcare, but no-one wants to acknowledge that someone has to pay for it.
Claire Burnell-Hornby, UK
Excellent programme, however, unless I missed it, there did not appear to be any mention of the expected future costs that certain trusts that will have to pay back investor's money under current PFI schemes over the years to come.
Christopher J Abbott, England
Disappointed and saddened that yet again a major programme chose to concentrate on the usual aspects of waiting lists, infection rates, shortages of personnel, bed-blocking and budgets -within a hospital setting. No clear mention of the wider aspects of the NHS - such as mental health, learning disabilities and care of the elderly. What about services that have to be provided by the charity/voluntary sector such as many hospices? Or is it the case that because these areas are not sexy and don't carry many votes at the ballot box that they receive such scant attention? By behaving in such a manner doesn't Panorama place itself firmly within "The Establishment", rather than providing a much needed check against it?
Ian Thompson, UK
As an employee of an NHS trust with an overspend of £1 million also facing loosing it's three star status I feel the programme did little to address the strain placed on employees by managers attempting to redress this overspend. Several of my colleagues are working in unsafe conditions, frequently placing themselves and those in their care in unenviable positions due to the unwillingness of the trust to provide cover which they cannot afford to fund. When something goes wrong the public should not point the finger at the front line staff who are working without appropriate support to provide the best care within their means, they should point it at a society which awards 'stars' to professionals as though they were primary school children who 'have done better'.
Susannah Wheeler, Britain
I am a senior manager in an NHS Trust, I collect statistical information. One of my children has been diagnosed with Cancer. I have seen from another perspective on how much resources goes into caring for patients in respect of drugs, radiotherapy, diagnostic tests etc. My child has been cared for in excess of 100 staff at the trust. The method of funding for the trusts has to be looked at. It may be true that overall it works out even but surely a specialist hospital that works to these high levels of intensive treatments and care need more funding? It is a though the government has put a "price on life" in a bid to achieve performance stars.
Nicki Newman, Cambridge
I am an American and have been living in the UK for two years now. I think it would be interesting to compare and contrast the UK system with the US system. I can see the positive and negatives of both but would be interested in seeing the comparisons. In the US, X-rays are read the same day and reported back to the GP, and MRIs aren't much longer. After being in a car accident, I find it frustrating to wait for months while in pain.
Your programme on the NHS, from my viewpoint, seems to have been an advert for New Labour. You show a three star hospital that operates within the 13 week targets, has an MRI unit and put A&E into wards within 4 hours. What about the average hospital, or better still one of the below average hospitals that do not conform to targets? I feel that it would have been more appropriate, if you had been able to use more than one hospital in the programme. giving a truer picture of the NHS.
Philip Fox, Wales, UK
I think the idea the economist had of measuring health prior to admission and on leaving hospital is an excellent one. I am sure such measures would show that the health of this nation is definitely improving.
I agree patient through put has increased but patient care has been all but destroyed in the process. The current way of working is to get patients in and out as quickly as possible. A production line. A couple of years ago I loved radiography, and would have recommended it as a career. My advice now would be under no circumstance consider a career in the NHS, unless your want to spend 3 years obtaining a degree, then work very long hour with high stress levels and low pay. Sorry this sounds so negative but this government is very close to destroying the NHS by not looking after the workers.
Stephen, Leeds, UK
Surely the most important point which came out of this programme was the statement that while there have been some important changes as a result of the effort to achieve targets, there is no overall measure of the health of the nation or of the impact that these changes might be having. I suggest that patients need to know that their concerns are being addressed and that the health service and the health of the nation is being improved by the changes introduced.
Raymond Hale, Fareham, Hampshire
I'm afraid the NHS no longer exists in the mind of our Government. We now have a National Health Insurance Scheme.
David Leopold, Swansea
It is only a matter of time before this Government will have to answer to headlines about bed closures, lack of intensive care and other specialist staff resulting in patients being unable to find such beds and Trusts declaring huge financial deficits. This is the true picture of the NHS and a one-sided biased report to deceive the public will not hide this fact.
Lindsay Woodbridge, England
Why no mention of mental health on tonight's Panorama on the NHS? Once again the stigma of mental health rears its head - it's the Cinderella of the NHS.
Brian Burke, UK
NHS staff want, more than anyone, to treat patients quickly but also want to make the patient feel cared for and not processed. The aim is to help people to become well and not just to have a procedure carried out. I appeal to the Government to stop pressurising the clinical staff or they to will become patients. It is time to consider the money that is spent on managers who would be better suited to selling beans than providing health care
Christine O'Hagan, Bangor, North Wales
In your programme last Sunday evening there was no mention of either the knock on effect of the failure to integrate health care and social services, which results in gross inefficiencies such as the major problem of bed blocking, or the multi-billion pound National Programme for IT. The latter is the largest IT project in the world which, it has been estimated, will cost between 18 and 30 billion pounds of taxpayers' money if it is to be implemented successfully. This is an eye-watering amount, which the Government has hung its hat on to enable the necessary changes to take place to 'modernise' the NHS. I just wonder whether the public realises how much of their money is earmarked for this project and I am quite certain that they have no idea what it is intended to achieve!
David Hancorn, Woodley, Reading, Berkshire
It is ridiculous to compare the NHS to a commercial venture as if dealing in some commodity. Is it the role of the NHS to promote National Health? Is it at all possible to aim and achieve this goal when all that is expected of it is to provide prompt and efficient treatment of all ailments of those entering its portals? You can promote national health only by creating awareness on the part of general public on the basis of an imperative need for healthy heating habits, to spend time on keep-fit exercises and how to manage day-to-day stress. Clearly these are not within the remit of NHS as an organisation.
G Rangarajan, UK
What has Labour done for the NHS, sounded just like a party political broadcast. There was no real criticism and I simply hated the speeded up graphics - most unpleasant. Far from the NHS using revolutionary advances in policies, there is definitely a counter revolution whereby private profit-making concerns are taking over and will do so even more if Blair wins. Your programmes are simply not investigative anymore - I probably will stop watching them.
Sybil Ashton, UK
In late 1997 I was admitted to Bedford Hospital with what turned out to be Lymphoma - a type of cancer. The treatment I received from two of the consultants featured in your programme, and all the other doctors and nurses was first-class, although the Oncology unit was in a totally inadequate portable cabin. Seven years later I am having further treatment, but this time in a purpose-built state-of-the-art ward where I receive the treatment I need, when I need it.
Most parts of the hospital are newly refurbished, or new, and spotlessly clean. X-rays are available on a walk-in basis and I wait very little time for a CT scan. The whole hospital is a very great credit to all who work there, and with significant building work currently underway, facilities can only get better.
Colin Pounds, Bedford, England
If one or two Trusts are having cash flow problems, it may be that they are poorly managed. If many Trusts are running out of money, it is prima facie evidence that the funding is inadequate. If the vast majority of trusts are, like Bedford, contemplating deficits at the end of the financial year, the Department of Health and especially the Treasury have got their sums seriously wrong.
Anonymous, West Yorkshire
I watched last night's programme with great interest. I was a nursing sister and took early retirement. I had noticed over the last twenty years a decline in cleanliness in hospitals. Last night was fairly typical of this. Why spend good money on a "washing machine" for beds when the mattress was taken from the floor and placed on the "clean" bed? Why doesn't anyone spot these incidents or is it me?
The inside story for achieving hospital A&E targets is that the patients are just patched up, not necessarily provided with right treatment. In A&Es something is shown to be done and then the work load is shifted to other clinics. In this process a treatment which could be provided the same day is delayed, only to add suffering to the patients and in many cases neglect of patients' conditions. This is to meet the 4 hours government's target. I feel disgusted being a part of this NHS setup. There are no ethics left in the medical profession, its all about targets and bullying by the managers.
The people of this country expect too much for the amount they pay. I have worked in A and E and it is used for too many trivial ailments, when a visit to a GP would be more suitable. The NHS cannot keep up with the demand. And the only way forward is to introduce private medical insurance even though it is unpopular.
Karen Wetherell, Camberley, UK
On the whole a good programme that covered many of the good points. It didn't say how difficult it is for nursing staff to keep the service going when still covering vacant posts, working double shifts and having to be the front line of blame for MRSA. The public should take more responsibility for their actions and assist NHS staff to give the best care, not moan at restrictions such as two visitors at a time and no sitting on the beds. I spent many precious hours of my job explaining to visitors the rules, even with posters all around.
Lindsay Randall, Coventry, West Midlands
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