Answered on the news…

Training Primary Care - NHS - GPs - Answered on the news...

There was a time when news was just that… news.  

Events happened, they were reported and became news but could only arrive as fast as boys on bicycles could deliver it.

Later, news became synchronised with the clock.  The six o’clock news on the wireless and later, on the telly, the News-at-Ten.

Now, news comes when and where we want it.  On a smart-phone or a wristwatch.  

News is generic and the trick for the print media and the broadcasters is to give it a colour and texture.  

Newsreaders have become personalities and presenters, celebrities.  It’s as much about them as it is people and events. 

Interviews have become a battle where interviewees are targets and victims of what they might have said ten years ago.  

Inquisitors make their names, not by what they discover but by the numbers they can embarrass.  Facts are seldom discovered and details almost never given an airing.

Interrogation by interruption, cross examination is all about the interview ‘style’, not the substance.  

On the other side of the microphone, politicians are media trained to be defensive, or just not turn up.  Why bother?  There’s social media, now.

Editors look for angles, events and pegs to hang their stories on.

Right now they have a gift.  An election and a struggling NHS;  ‘what’s the issue’, ‘whose fault is it’, ‘who can fix it’?  ‘It’s imploding’.

Straight answers, you won’t get on the news…

What’s the issue; nearly ten years of flat-line funding.  

Whose fault?  Originally, a panicky coalition government, more recently the conservative’s austerity policies.  

Who can fix it?  Anyone who will get funding back to 4% for the next five years and beyond; sort the pension crisis; a relentless focus on the workforce; fix waiting lists before they bring patients closer to their end than a new hip; fund social care so it can function and someone with the political nerve to realise, it will take five years to get the NHS back on its feet. 

Is the NHS imploding?  Well, it is very busy but, imploding?

You won’t hear any of this in interviews…

In the summer of 2010, the number of delayed discharges was around 3,800 a day.  In August this year, the number was 4,802.

In August 2010, the number of patients delayed, that were receiving acute or non-acute care were almost identical.  

In August 2019, around two-thirds of delayed transfer patients were receiving acute care and only one-third were receiving non-acute care.

There’s more.

Since August 2010, the NHS has been responsible for the majority of delayed transfers of care.  Mainly, patients waiting further non-acute care.

In August 2019, the NHS was responsible for 60% of patients delayed, social care was responsible for 30%.  Joint responsibility, 9%.

Between August 2010 and February 2017, 1,631 more patients were delayed per day where the NHS was responsible, representing an increase of 79%.  However, over the same time period, 1,185 more patients were delayed per day due to social care, representing a 96% increase. 

Since then, delayed transfers of care where the NHS was responsible have decreased by 22%, and delayed transfers of care due to social care have gone down by 40%.

And, you won’t hear;

In the year to May 2018, 31,492 people, made more than half a million visits to A&E, equivalent to 4% of all A&E attendances.


There were around twice as many A&E attendances (3.0 million) for the 10 per cent of the population living in the most deprived areas.

Imploding?  No, there’re improvements in both health and social care.  Given the limits to resources it’s little short of heroic.

As for repeat visits and deprivation?  They are questions for other people and you’re unlikely to see them answered on the news.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.