We must make use of NHS services wisely - Column by Carol Pearson, lay member for NHS Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group

Carol Pearson is a patient / lay rep with roles in both the Crawley and Horsham & Mid sussex CCGs
Carol Pearson is a patient / lay rep with roles in both the Crawley and Horsham & Mid sussex CCGs

Shortly before Christmas, a friend of mine had major surgery. It wasn’t straightforward and she developed complications afterwards whilst at home. I went round to visit her and took one look at her. I knew she wasn’t going to like what I said - because I knew she needed to be back in hospital.

Sadly this friend has spent a lot of time in hospital and it was the last thing she wanted to hear. It was just before Christmas and she was looking forward to spending time with family. She just wanted a break. I was so glad I had seen her – although it would have been lovely not to have broken this news to her – because she was very ill and needed specialist care.

In A&E, I wasn’t surprised to see that every single member of staff was incredibly busy, and that every bed was taken. Later on, as I left A&E, beds from ambulances were queued up, waiting for spaces in A&E.

I felt for every patient lying there and for all the staff, who were busy dealing with patients, following up tests and doing their best for all these very sick people.

In my role as a NHS Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group/NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group lay member, there is never a week that goes by where I don’t feel awe for the work done by NHS staff.

For every nurse who hasn’t had time to have a break because there are so many patients to care for, for every surgeon who has spent hours on their feet in the operating theatre and for every single GP who tries to coordinate complex care for very sick patients, as well as all the staff behind the scenes who ensure services operate as efficiently as possible.

So, as we start a new year with hospitals facing challenges in A&E, I think about the patients facing delays and the staff feeling stretched.

But my mind also turns to the Ebola patients in Africa, where conditions are extremely tough.

The NHS is an organisation to be very proud of, but clearly there is no room for complacency.

The CCG is working closely with all of our local providers of NHS services – from hospitals to GP Practices – to continue improving care in challenging circumstances.

The bottom line is that we all need to use what we have wisely.

Make sure you get the right care, in the right place by using our health services and symptoms website www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net