Tag Archives: NHS crisis

Can the NHS Withstand this Onslaught?

NHS ImpactHardly a day goes past without a mention of the woes that the NHS is undergoing at the moment. The links below indicate how serious the problem is.

NHS will face £30bn funding gap by 2020, official warns
NHS in Wales faces £2.5bn funding gap
Hospitals to be paid by NHS to claw back costs of treating foreigners
Nurses vote against fee for GP services
GP surgeries are not fit for purpose: BMA
NHS Direct ‘failed dying three year-old’

And more recently:-
Lib Dems to demand emergency £2bn bailout for the NHS – reports
Poll: NHS decisions should be left to doctors, say majority of Britons
Jeremy Bowen’s father left without food and water in hospital
Wounded soldiers failing to receive the care they are entitled to
NHS cash problems will get worse next year, finance chiefs believe
Jeremy Hunt plans disclosure drive to reduce medical errors

I’m sure if you dig a little deeper, you will uncover more such horror stories.

The can be no doubt that the NHS has really serious problems, but this leads to two pertinent questions:-
1. Who is causing them?, and
2. How do we fix them?
In my view, the NHS is suffering from “Politicians Disease“. If there had been a real motivation on the part of the government over the years to do something effective to solve the problems, it would have been done. Instead, it seems that the intention is to let it run on starvation rations until it implodes, and has to be bailed out with a massive injection of Privatisation.

The answer to question 2. is much more complicated. First, we have to make the government understand that the NHS must remain “free at the point of use”, as was always the intention, and the funds to do the job have to be found at the expense of lower priority demands on money, such as wars, nukes, and increases in MP’s salary or expenses.

Then we must convince the government that politicians are not capable of running the NHS at all;- it needs to be properly managed by an independent body that is not likely to change at every election cycle.

And, as I have said before, there must be an agreed long-term plan to work to.

This won’t happen unless YOU get off your butt, and do something about it!

Don’t forget, we are all ultimately responsible for our own bodies. We can improve our personal situation by our choice of lifestyle, and maintain our good health ourselves. Think: – Thin is Beautiful!

You want to keep the NHS?

Then fight for it!

Sold Down The River!

PillsAs far as the NHS is concerned, I am more convinced than ever that the British public is being ‘sold down the river’. If there was the political will on the part of government to defend the NHS at all costs, it would have been done. Unfortunately, the opposite appears to be true.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the government is hell-bent on an American-style health system, knowing full well that the British public would not tolerate it at all. How would they go about making the change, without having to accept the blame for it?

The lack of an overall long-term plan is the first step. Putting the NHS at mercy of successive politicians acting as Health Minister, with each of them free to enact their own particular fantasies is a great help. The NHS is pulled one way, then the other, according to the political dogma holding sway at the time, with each change soaking up billions of money in the process – and achieving nothing.

The next item is to starve the NHS of qualified personnel. This forces the need to employ ‘temporary’ staff at vastly inflated rates, and soaks up more money. See:-
NHS hospital pays finance chief rates of £600,000 a year

You can see how well their privatisation measures are doing here:-
‘Appalling service’ provided by Healthcare at Home leaves patients without drugs

Another measure is to centralise everything, on the grounds of so-called “efficiency”. Any properties surplus to requirements after this process can be sold, and the money dissipated on other worthless projects. It is very unlikely to be held in reserve should the NHS need it in the future!

Now, Simon Stevens, the new NHS chief executive, has laid out plans for an expansion in community services to bolster the country’s small hospitals, and provide more care for the elderly. He wants to de-centralise again! I am not saying that he is wrong, but the amount of money that will need to be invested has to come from somewhere.

Otherwise we will end up with this:-
NHS patients ‘could be forced to pay bed and board’
and the American-style system in the UK will become a fact of life!

Of course I blame the politicians! For me the questions are simple enough:-

    Do I need nukes, or do I invest in healthcare?
    Do I go to war in some foreign country that is really none of my business, or do I look after my own people?
    Do I continue to give aid to foreign countries, (that may or may not need it), when more and more of my own citizens are falling into the poverty trap?
    Do I spend vast amounts on flagship projects, or do I use the money wisely to safeguard the things that are of real value to the community?

There is not so much time left to get this lot sorted out, with general elections about a year away. The NHS cannot wait that long.

We need to get the existing politicians to understand that the people want the NHS to be maintained in the spirit in which it was formed.

If we fail to do that, then make damned sure that in the next election we get politicians who will do the job we need.

Don’t forget, politicians are past masters at making the outcome of their political choices seem as though it is inevitable, and the only option available.

If you haven’t understood that yet, you deserve what you get!

Can Anyone Fix the NHS?

What a question! Who knows enough about the NHS to be able to answer it?
I certainly didn’t, but I knew from the almost constant stream of newspaper articles that there were really serious problems with it. Furthermore, it was suffering from periodical ‘movement of goalposts’ as the result of political decisions that would make life difficult for any company.

300,000 more patients on NHS waiting list under coalition http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/13/patients-nhs-waiting-list-coalition
Hospitals must stop providing certain services or shut to sustain NHS – MPs http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/12/commons-health-committee-warning-hospitals-stop-services-merge-survive
NHS chief admits to dismay at Jeremy Hunt’s meddling http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/21/nhs-service-jeremy-hunt-malcolm-grant
NHS crisis talks over introduction of patients’ records database http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10644864/NHS-crisis-talks-over-introduction-of-patients-records-database.html
NHS database put on ice http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10647430/NHS-database-put-on-ice.html
NHS trusts in financial difficulty double in number http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/22/nhs-trusts-financial-difficulty-double-year
Shrink our hospitals to give better care, says NHS chief Sir David Nicholson http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/nhs/10632226/Shrink-our-hospitals-to-give-better-care-says-NHS-chief-Sir-David-Nicholson.html
Stafford hospital to be sentenced over poor care of diabetic patient who died http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/21/poor-care-diabetic-patient-died-stafford-hospital-details

I knew the NHS only from the viewpoint of an occasional patient, and thought it was high time that I found out more. I started here:- Can Gerry Robinson Fix the NHS?

After watching that, I was, quite frankly, horrified! However, I now had a starting point.
One of Gerry’s tenets is that “Any business, no matter how large, can actually be made to work well.” I wholeheartedly agree with this, but there have to be some provisos.

a) To be able to manage anything properly, we have to understand it completely. There is not the ghost of a chance that a politican would be able to do this. The requirement then is to run the NHS purely as a business, and take politics completely out of it.
b) It is not possible for a single person to assimilate all the data necessary to do the job. It needs a dedicated, structured, management team, headed by a responsible executive of proven ability. (Not a politician in sight here either).
c) Medium and long-term healthcare goals must be set, and plans developed to achieve these goals. Both goals and plans must be agreed at all levels of the NHS, or they will come to naught. (Politicians need only get involved to agree goals, and nothing else.) Don’t underestimate the workload for this requirement – it is a mammoth task!
d) In the interest of overall cost reduction, the purchasing system must be completely reviewed:- “The NHS should be doing more to harness its vast purchasing power to bring down the cost of buying drugs and medical equipment, from swabs to replacement hip joints. Yet last week, a Telegraph investigation revealed that pharmaceutical firms appeared to be rigging the market in so-called “specials” – prescription drugs that are largely not covered by national NHS price regulations.” (Extract from ‘Sir Gerry Robinson: Tesco could really teach the NHS a thing or two’, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10141241/Sir-Gerry-Robinson-Tesco-could-really-teach-the-NHS-a-thing-or-two.html
e) Again, to reduce costs, the use of agency staff and locums should be kept to an absolute minimum by efficient planning. To understand why, see:- “Doctors paid up to £3,000 a shift, official figures show” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10641189/Doctors-paid-up-to-3000-a-shift-official-figures-show.html
f) Increase efforts and funding for prevention rather than cure. We already know that obesity, cancer and diabetes are increasing at alarming rates, and it is surely better to adjust lifestyles to effect a reduction than pay the increasing cost of continuing treatment.

“One year later, Gerry revisits Rotherham to see how they are coping. What he finds both surprises and delights him. The hospital is now run efficiently, waiting lists are down and staff relations are excellent.
But there are clouds on the horizon. With government policy encouraging more out of hospital care in the community, what is the future for the hospital?

Gerry takes a long, hard look at what is planned for the NHS and asks whether it really adds up and whether it will really deliver the change the service needs to face the challenges of the coming years.”
“So should we be recruiting our next leaders from Tesco? Absolutely. You should certainly look outside the NHS. You don’t have to have a medical background to manage it.”

And there you have it, albeit rather simplified. This could be a very well-paid job!

If you are interested in reading further, search for “Gerry Robinson on… fixing the NHS: lessons learned”