So, we hear that the NHS is close to collapse and needs a helluva lot of money. Over the years, successive governments have thrown money at the NHS with an air of ‘Aren’t we wonderful?’ But are they right?
Does the NHS really need more money or does it just need a total reorganisation?
I know this is a radical view and I will probably get shot down in flames, but from my own experience I wonder.
A couple of years ago I was admitted to hospital – it doesn’t matter which – to have a total hip replacement. This is a relatively common procedure undertaken at hospitals all over the country, hundreds of times a day. I was given a wrist-tag and a junior surgeon drew a huge arrow on my right thigh “just to make sure the surgeon does the right leg” I was told.
Then I waited, and waited, and waited some more and after waiting around seven hours a lady came up and called my name, inviting me to accompany her to a side room. “Hmmm,” thought I. “In her business suit, she doesn’t look like a nurse.”
She told me my surgery had been cancelled because they couldn’t find a post-operative bed for me. As I am sure you can imagine, having psyched myself up for a major operation only to be told it was off was a great disappointment to me. Through my tears I phoned my husband and got him to come and pick me up immediately.
What a way to run a health service! Because my surgery had been cancelled on the day, after I had been admitted, I was entitled to go to the local private hospital under the NHS and had the op a couple of weeks later in a private room with an ensuite bathroom. Very nice, but what did that cost the NHS? I looked it up – something like £13,000!
What would that have bought if the NHS had not had to shell the cash out on my surgery? Half a year’s salary for a nurse; some new vital equipment, perhaps enough to save the life of a baby, or something similar, and it had to be spent on my hip because them’s the rules. I had a good operation – well, at least as good as major surgery can be – and the alternative spending possibilities went short.
I dread to think how many times this has happened and how much money was totally wasted because of the inefficiency of the management of my hospital. Multiply that by all the hospitals in the country and there’s a big problem.
Now we see masses and masses of equipment being thrown away because nobody is available to clean it, sterilise it and give it to the next person who needs it. They just ditch it and buy new, and why – because they can, that’s why. The government is so keen to make the NHS work that they just chuck money at it – and then crow about how much they’ve spent on it as if to congratulate themselves. If that money had been more wisely spent it would go a lot further and we wouldn’t be in the pickle we’re in now, and just before a winter season when matters are likely to get a lot worse.
Let’s not even think about foreigners who come here and demand treatment almost before their plane has touched down. We hear of women who are eight months pregnant with complications having to be rushed to hospitals near Heathrow and ending up costing us, the British taxpayers, hundreds of thousands of pounds that are seldom recovered. The National Health Service – more like the International Health Service.
And locums – they’re the ones who are brought in to cover staff shortages. Some of these medics earn more in a day than a nurse earns in a month, and if they have to be flown in from abroad, they claim expenses and that’s more cost to the taxpayer. And are they are as competently trained as our own medical staff? I’m thinking of Dr Daniel Ubani, who was flown in from Europe and gave one of his patients a lethal dose of painkillers because he didn’t know what he was doing.
I am sure there are some wonderful doctors, especially from the Indian sub-continent, whose English is good enough to understand and be understood by the patients, but some doctors, even from Europe, are not fluent enough in English to be able to give their patients the proper treatment. How can they understand the symptoms being relayed to them or give nursing staff the right instructions to treat the patient if they don’t speak perfect English?
I am positive that many of the doctors and nurses working in the NHS are absolute angels, hard working and doing their best for us. Even the junior doctors who are wanting strike action could get a fairer deal if only the management of the service was sorted out. If cases like my own were stamped out by efficient organisation, that would free up millions of pounds that could be better spent, even to the point of giving junior doctors more salary or training up more of them.
I sincerely hope that once we are out of the EU and there is a bit of spare cash around, the government decides that at least part of it should be spent on building a few new hospitals staffed with professional doctors and nurses, but far more important, professional managers who are able to make decisions about the way their hospitals are run and ensure that waste is kept to a minimum.