Year of the Apocalypse if you followed the media. Its difficult to shake that notion admittedly- even past the usual clickbait hyperbole of social media- what with so many stunning events- or perhaps some just didn't fit the narrative of our own. Brexit or the Trump victory- lest we forget made 2016 the high point of some folks lives- whether we individually agreed or not…but it was perhaps undeniable how the world just became a little less tolerant of anything that devoted from our individual perspectives. There were no more good guys or bad guys…this was like an old school western where everyone bore their cross, everyone had their shades of grey.
Personally, the lowest point seemed to be Allepo where driven by politics and a general impotence, the world saw lives shattered and shared their indignation in 140 characters- yet seemed powerless to do anything. We all got numbed by the latest child bleeding- and somehow it all became just another headline…that was perhaps a nadir of 2016..again, perhaps put more into focus than past events such as Darfur due to the white hot gaze of social media and 24 hour news cycles.
But you know what? professionally…its been actually a pretty good year. The NHS continued to struggle inevitably- but more of that later. To look at the positives, the beginning of the new year brough many together to create a Type 1 care pathway- we are now a whisker away from publishing it- and the seeds were indeed sown that day. Further on, we had the TAD event, we had a comic book published, locally, the 5 year data came out as regards the Super 6 model of care- and of course, the new role of joining the Diabetes team at NHS England. The crowning bit was finally getting the transformation funds to be released- throw in the advanced discussions regards digital initiatives around education, plans in place regards access to technology for Type 1 diabetes, opening up communications regards dietary interventions for Type 2 diabetes….its not been that bad a year. In between the absolute mayhem going on, diabetes- has actually had a good year- and believe me, theres a few more up our sleeve. Keep an eye out for 2017.
But what about the wider NHS? Well- about 18 months ago, I joined an eclectic bunch of folks to develop NHS Survival- its call? A cross party commission to look at NHS funding. Life is all about timing- now we see that idea gather some steam- the billion dollar question has to be- is it a bit late now? Or not? I don't know the answer to that- but I d know this…without social care funding, the system is broke. I love all the energy and drive about process but when nearly all of the country is now failing the 4 hour target, its no longer the process. Its simply the system. In 2017, I see it worsening- and when the system starts judging your effectiveness on how many discharges you can get -rather than quality…we all know, deep in our hearts, its not the process anymore.
What hurt me most? The whole junior doctor saga. What should have been an honest debate about 7 day provision, descended into utter farce as the system locked horns with one of the most dedicated bunch of people working in healthcare. Many health journalists or indeed those with chips on their shoulders regards doctors enjoyed the skirmish- at the end of it all, no one won. We stayed where we were with 7 day services- we just lost a lot of good will in the process. Who repairs that is something we all debate…my view is simple- it has to be those who will continue to be part of the system- they are the senior clinicians. Many move on- we are here to stay- we must nurture our own generation next.
So- to 2017. To those living with diabetes, I promise to keep trying. I will make mistakes, I won't get everything right- but I will try-whether I stay on in this NHSE role- or not. Wider, we are into tough times, big decisions will be forced and life will feel tough, angry, bitter from time to time. Everyone will fight it in their own way- but as a clinician, sometimes its just about doing the best for the person in front of you. Try to keep your wits about you- and maybe, just maybe, realise that there are no black and white characters in this storyboard. We all bear our own crosses.
And thats all we can try to do. I wish you all a beautiful 2017 x