At this time of year, it is common to develop many ailments, such as colds, flu, worsening perhaps of arthritis, even pneumonia.  We are very lucky in the UK to have a healthcare system that offers us free healthcare to take care of us when we do fall ill.

But it can also be very frustrating and difficult because of the many issues we are seeing in our NHS. We constantly see reports in the news about the problems in getting an appointment with a GP and having to wait for weeks to get one.  The clamp down on immigration into the UK contributes to a shortage of doctors, especially at a time when many of those who arrived into the UK around 40 years ago are about to retire and new doctors being reluctant to get into general practice because of the changing rules.

The state of the NHS is always on the top of the debate list for politicians, who are promising to pump in extra money, but results don’t seem to be forthcoming.  And then there’s the state of the mental health service, which appears to be deteriorating day by day because of a severe lack of funding.  Some government schemes that had been established are now no longer running due to funding issues.

So where does that leave us?  Many of us want to turn to private care because we know we will be able to see a GP sooner, hardly wait at all for needed surgery and perhaps even experience a better standard of care.  But private care is expensive and very few of us can afford that luxury.

The British Medical Association (BMA) says that the NHS is facing a perfect storm of rising demand from an ageing population with increasingly complex illnesses and a drastic funding shortfall. That doesn’t sound encouraging at all. Are we placing unrealistic expectations on a service that was set up in the late 1940s to assist in post-war reconstruction, when medical treatments and technology were not as advanced as today?

The BMA certainly has a point.  The demographic of our populations has changed significantly over the decades. We have an older population who are living longer due to advances in medical care, so clearly demand is far greater today than around 60 years ago and the costs of providing this care are way higher. That’s going to impact the quality of care we get. Since the NHS is funded 100% through taxation (one of its core principles), and increasing tax is so politically controversial, how do we resolve these issues?

It doesn’t appear that anyone has the answer to that question, yet.  Political parties seem more concerned with power than with really making a difference, which is why they negate each other’s efforts at improvement and thus are constantly taking one step forward and two steps back.

Doctors seem to be merely puppets to political agendas and because they are the front line of the NHS, they are in the firing line of angry patients when things go wrong.  And those of us who pay for this service are severely disappointed at what our hard-earned pennies are buying us.

It seems like a never-ending vicious cycle and I genuinely wonder whether it will ever be broken. Something seems to be missing from the equation. Wait! I just overheard a colleague mention the perfect word as I write this: commitment.