When There’s No Room At The Inn

The portrayal of the Nativity story remains a highlight of this time of year in schools and churches, with parents enjoying watching children grappling with the variety of roles.  I’m not sure why, but the Innkeeper has always been my favourite. In particular, the apocryphal tales of this landlord getting muddled over their lines – theatrically welcoming Mary and Joseph into his establishment, rather than breaking the news that there’s, “no room at the Inn”. The ensuing chaos is then often hilarious.

We are all acutely aware that there has been, “no room in the NHS” for many months, if not years.  However, the ensuing chaos is far from hilarious. The consequences of having insufficient hospital beds, insufficient doctors and nurses, and insufficient provisions for social care are abhorrent. These consequences are felt acutely by many of the population and played out in the national media on almost daily basis. The wait for an emergency ambulance being ten times longer than national targets is undoubtedly contributing to the loss of lives. Waiting lists for elective treatment being  longer than they ever have been, is leading to prolonged, unnecessary suffering for many. The ramifications are also being felt in General Practices across the country. Surgeries in the past have always found a way to cope when there’s “no room at the Inn” – making use of the stable out the back, drawing in resources from the local, surrounding fields and receiving precious support from afar.  However, after many years of increasing demands and dwindling resources the situation in General Practice is probably more critical than the diabolical conditions in hospitals.  We have used up all our spare rooms, we have taken on additional staff, and we have used up all the goodwill of an exhausted workforce working 12–14-hour days.

So, times are very tough at present. For those of you that have been in contact with any of our Surgeries over the last few months, we are sorry things might not have been an efficient as we would all expect.  Equally, we are extremely thankful for the continued understanding, support and gratitude expressed by many of our patients at the tortuous time.

We are sadly facing the prospect of there being “no room at the Inn” for some time to come – whilst the imagery of a queue of ambulances and a spreadsheet of hospital waiting lists appears to be more newsworthy, a queue of patients online, at reception or on the phone is equally, if not more, distressing. We will absolutely keep trying our very best to offer safe, effective healthcare over this festive season and into the new year, and thank you for your continued support.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and as a happy and healthy new year as possible.