Sunday, 29 April 2007

A Society of Want

Have just been reading Polly Toynbee’s excellent article in the Guardian today 27th April, 2007 where she has summarized the past 10 years of Tony Blair’s government including all the reforms that have been made in the NHS. All in all there have been some pretty impressive changes made in the NHS system that has evolved since 1948 and has come a long way since its beginning when the mantra then was:
“care for all from the cradle to the grave”.

We must not forget that this service is indeed for all from the ‘cradle to the grave’ and this helps us to remember just where maternity services sit in the grand scheme of things. The changes have overall been to the benefit to the general population and in some ways to the staff with a revamped pay and career structure (not the recent pay rise, by the way, which is a blog for another day).

Interestingly, Toynbee makes reference to the fact that waiting lists times have reduced dramatically and quotes an incident when a patient needing a hip replacement after being told the wait would be three months went off to Germany for private care – the patient’s GP sent her off with a reminder that before 1997 people used to have to wait two years.

Yes, we live in a world now where we want it all and we want it now. This is very much reflected in the world where I work. Women expect to get pregnant straight away and then if they don’t after a few months start demanding IVF. In pregnancy, they want it all, carry on working, carry on being super fit, carry on as if nothing is happening to them. In labour, they want the baby out if after 4 or 5 contractions nothing has happened; they want an epidural (which costs £1500) if the birthing pool is not available; they want a home birth even though it might kill them or the baby; they want a birth experience like its something to be bought and paid for; they want a private room!; they want; they want; they want.

Can’t blame it on the women though. They have been led to believe that maternity services and the service of a midwife is just that – something that can be bought like you would book a holiday or a new car but the fact is, the NHS is not a market place and all the services have an allotted span of money and it has to go round an awful lot of people and women.

So, although there is still a lot left to be desired, all in all, the UK does not fair too badly with the services of the NHS. Let’s just hope that the next Government does not change too many things and try and keep some stability within the maternity services.

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