THE NATIONAL Health Service is – in many respects – emblematic of the advance of technology over the past 70 years. Operations once regarded as complicated, and necessitating long periods of convalescence, are now commonplace as more surgery is undertaken with pinpoint accuracy by state-of-the-art robotic devices. It means people can undergo hip replacements, or have prostates removed, as day patients – something that was inconceivable in 1948 – and Yorkshire is at the forefront of these changes.
Together with groundbreaking progress in medical science, it means the NHS is the victim of its own success as it struggles to meet higher expectations and the health needs of a growing – and ageing – population. And while it should be a source of major pride that surgery need not be so invasive, new technology will only benefit hospitals if there’s a similar investment in after-care. Individuals still need ample medical and nursing support as they recover from their surgery – time and support that has, on occasion, been compromised by the day-to-day pressures facing hospitals. There’s still no substitute for human interaction, whether it be arranging appropriate physiotherapy or a reassuring word from a nurse to a patient about any side-effects. In short, clear communication is still the best remedy if the NHS wants to do more to help itself.