Sunday, 22 May 2011

Deer in Horwich, Health Care in Jersey and if it’s Tuesday it must be Slovakia

One of the highlights of what was a very long week was coming across a female fallow deer on my drive early Tuesday morning. There is a small herd of deer who occupy the slopes of Riverton, on the outskirts of Bolton. I live part way down from and Riverton Moor, and deer can sometimes be seen on the fields between my house and the top of Winter Hill, close by. I was taking Cello for his first walk at 05.20 and as we got to the Orchard, there the deer stood. She appeared calm and watched us for a short while before slipping effortlessly between the chestnut paling fencing and back into the surrounding woodland. It was a wonderfully calm interlude in what turned out to be a turbulent week.

Eight hours later I was sitting in Gatwick, en route to Jersey and this year’s Council of Deans of Health Annual General Meeting. The meeting was held at the Hotel de France. Behind its rather grand 19 century facade was a wonderfully modern and very comfortable hotel. For me, being able to stay in touch with the School and colleagues while away is vital, and the hotel had a fantastic WiFi internet system, accessible anywhere in the hotel, that allowed for this. Situated on the outskirts of Saint Helier, it provided a rare glimpse into a former era of splendour, luxury and hedonism!

However, we were there to look at the big issues facing Schools of Nursing and other Health Care Professions in the here and now and the future, of which there were many. The two days started with an introduction to health care provision in Jersey – and possibly what we heard provided a glimpse into the future for the rest of the UK.

There were some interesting facts however, for example, there are 92 GPs for the total 92,000 population of Jersey. In the US there are 247 doctors per 100,000 patients, in India there are 2200 patients to 1 doctor and in England there are 18 GP per every 100,000 patients. GPs in Jersey make their living from selling everyone of their services. So for example, it will cost you anything from £55125 for each consultation.

It is no wonder that Emergency Departments are seeing an ever increasing number of patients turning up seeking treatment – all A+E treatment is free – at the moment. Current reviews of how the Jersey health care system needs to change are seriously considering charging patients for their A+E consultation in the future. Without enormous investment of capital to increase secondary care capacity, by the year 2016 current services will not be able to provide for the islands populations health care needs. The underlying drivers for this situation show high levels of congruence to those to be found in mainland UK – I think it is only a question of time before we will need to engage in similar debates – but one thing is for certain, comprehensive health care services, free at the point of provision are well and truly a thing of the past. It will be a hard road to travel.

And tomorrow, while not being completely straightforward in terms of what I am doing, it is likely to be both a busy and an important day to get through. Then Tuesday sees me yet again travelling (for the last time in a long while!) – I am off to Chair one of my favourite Nurse Education Conferences. 

This conference is held in Slovakia, more of which next week. I have been involved with this conference for some 16 years, and for me it provides an opportunity to give something back to the nursing profession, and it is a conference based upon relationships that are long standing and which are very dear to my heart.