In my opinion a major underlying cause of the ‘Stafford scandal’ was that most of us, including politicians and healthcare professionals, had lost sight of the fundamental priority of a national health service. That is to provide excellent and immediate care to those who become suddenly very unwell. There have been tremendous improvements in many areas such as cardiac, cancer and orthopaedic care.
However, the importance of the care of sick elderly patients who make up the bulk of our medical ‘takes’ have only rarely grabbed the headlines. Care of these patients is expensive in staff time and resources, it is often difficult and tiring and can only be delivered in a high-quality way by departments which are equipped appropriately, are well staffed by motivated individuals and led by enthusiastic consultants.