The Real Reasons Why NHS Hospitals Are Closing
(Don’t believe the rubbish you read elsewhere)
by Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA
All over Britain, hospitals are being closed. And even when whole hospitals aren’t being closed, many accident and emergency departments are being shut.
Numerous excuses have been given for this – and administrators have been busy lying through their teeth as they have merrily closed down local hospitals and casualty units. The excuses given are feeble, inaccurate and misleading and display an almost criminal failure either to understand the facts or to tell the truth. And since the quality of medical journalism in the UK is now at an all-time low (with many health correspondents having absolutely no medical knowledge or training) the simplistic and inaccurate excuses are given publicity and credence.
Here are the commonest excuses for the closures:
1. There isn’t enough money. This is rubbish. The NHS is awash with money. The problem is that the money is spent on the wrong things. Thousands of NHS administrators now earn huge six figure salaries (with inflation-linked pensions). Thousands have been given huge payoffs – and then almost immediately rehired as advisers. Over the past six years, NHS managers received nearly £2 billion in redundancy settlements with more than 3,000 members of staff being handed payouts of over £100,000 each. In one case, a married couple who were NHS managers received almost £1 million when they were ‘let go’ and were then quickly rehired in the health service. This is an appalling waste of money. Moreover, it is, it seems, almost impossible for a hospital to sack an incompetent administrator without giving them a lottery win type ‘goodbye bonus’. If the NHS were closed down tomorrow, and the money used to buy private BUPA style care, there would be more than enough money available to buy private health care for every man, woman and child in Britain. The level of service would be infinitely better than it is with the NHS.
2. There aren’t enough doctors or nurses. This is also rubbish. Britain is full of doctors and nurses who can’t get jobs. The problem is that the NHS spends too much of its money on hiring administrators – and then allowing them to waste money on expense account fripperies.
3. The number of old people in Britain is rising. And old people cost a good deal of money. (This is a straightforward, old-fashioned lie. The evidence shows that most pensioners require – and receive – surprisingly little medical care. )
4. Administrators are closing hospitals in an attempt to ‘rationalise’. It does not seem to occur to them that if patients have to travel 40 or 50 miles to hospital then they will probably be dead by the time they arrive there.
And now here are the real reasons why NHS hospitals and accident and emergency units are being closed:
1. The Government now allows GPs to opt out of providing 24-hour cover. As a result, most GPs work a 38-hour week and refuse to see patients at night or at weekends. This means that patients who fall ill out of hours must either call an ambulance or make their own way to the nearest hospital. Inevitably, this has put pressure on hospitals. Some administrators are now closing busy hospitals on the perverse grounds that their hospitals are so busy that they cannot provide enough staff to care for the patients seeking help.
2. The European Union’s laws about working hours mean that doctors are said to be working when they are on call. And so a doctor who is asleep for eight hours but is on call has, in EU law, been working for eight hours. This means that hospitals have difficulty in providing night time and weekend cover. The EU has forced the NHS into a position where it is now virtually open only during ordinary working hours. This means that administrators find it easy to claim that they need to shut down. (Administrators love nothing more than a hospital with no patients. It is very easy to manage and clean a hospital where there are no patients – and the money saved can be spent on more administrators.)
3. The General Medical Council has introduced regulations preventing experienced, older doctors from helping out or working part time. This is total lunacy and is a major cause of the problems patients now face in finding medical care.
4. A few years ago, the Government decided to increase the number of female doctors. It therefore introduced a policy forcing medical schools to take in more female students than male students. Sadly, many women doctors do not want to work at night or at weekends – and they want to work part time. This has exacerbated the existing problems. Legislation forcing hospitals and GP practices to keep positions open for women having babies also means that staff shortages are endemic. (This is not a sexist comment. It just happens to be a politically inconvenient fact.)
5. Because of the power of the drug companies, vast amounts of money are spent on drugs (such as statins) which are not necessary and which do more harm than good. The money would be much better spent – and would save far more lives – if used to keep hospital departments open.
That’s the real truth about hospital closures.
Copyright Vernon Coleman September 2016
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