Life support for the NHS


Posted on January 8th, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 3 comments

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

To outline a comprehensive remedy for the ongoing and worsening woes of the beleaguered NHS would take a little more space than this blog permits; suffice it to say that the NHS needs to be properly funded, along with a major structural and operational overhaul.

A Royal Commission has been suggested. The problem is that Royal Commissions (or ‘purple papers’ as I like to think of them) need to be carefully managed to come up with the answers that a government wants to hear, and management isn’t one of this government’s strong suits, and I’m not sure that it has any desired answers in mind anyway.

I will say this: given that GP services, along with contracted suppliers, are all private concerns, perhaps we need to contemplate a greater role for the private sector in the delivery of front line services. This is especially indicated for the effective care of older people with multiple chronic conditions: at present there are so many older people being repeatedly shunted between home and hospital, at great distress and disruption to themselves and their famiies, and tying-up paramedics’ time, ambulance services and hospital beds.

Along with many others, ‘creeping privatisation’ is anathema to me; it needs to leap, not creep.

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3 responses to “Life support for the NHS”

  1. I agree, we don’t need yet another Royal Commission (a great way to kick something into the long grass) or cross-party report. These are all forms of work avoidance, and the longer we put off tackling the central issues (putting social care on a sustainable footing being one of them), the longer older people are going to de-condition in hospital (and end up costing the NHS more in the end).

  2. Bob Ferguson says:

    There is ample scope for private providers to be recruited as sub-contractors to mitigate some of the more acute delivery problems in NHS hospitals, though I suspect it’s likely to prove a good deal less straightforward than you imagine. But privatisation? Shame on you! The fundamental principle of the NHS apart, the experience of other sectors of the UK economy suggests that privatisation – whether it creeps or leaps – has been anything but an undiluted success. Be careful what you wish for.

  3. Keith Lewin says:

    The treatment of older people in the conveyor belt between home/care home and hospital must be deplored.

    I do not share concerns about ‘creeping’ privatisation of NHS services; as you correctly observe, privatisation has been a cornerstone of the NHS since its foundation, in terms of primary care. That seems to have worked so well for 70 years that the average member of the public doesn’t know their GP is a private contractor.

    There has also been the complete outsourcing of NHS deliveries to DHL – that must have been about a decade ago – I am not aware of any complaints about that service.

    Another area to be addressed is the huge sum of money which could be released for care services if the NHS staff made fewer errors in care, especially antenatal care. Currently, legal claims against the NHS cost about £3.6bn annually in damages payments and legal costs. And of those people who are injured (as opposed to killed by the NHS) many can be expected to be a recurrent ‘drain’ on NHS resources as their health needs increase as a result of the earlier NHS injury.

    There will always be mistakes. Victims of those mistakes should always be properly dealt with including compensated (as best as can be achieved) – my guestimate is that there is little reason why the NHS should not be able to reduce the level of mistakes so that the drain on the NHS is reduced by an unchallenging 50%, that would make almost £2bn available… annually. With hard work, why couldn’t the NHS be expected to reduce the level of errors so that the annual immediate drain on NHS resources of legal actions can be reduced to, say, £600 million, annually.

    This is a goal well worth aiming for. This is just one of the many areas in which the NHS and its staff can be ‘smarter’ thereby releasing more money for care.


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