How To Cure The NHS
In One Day
Thanks to a lethal
mixture of lawyers, bureaucrats and politicians Britain's out of hours medical
service is now virtually non-existent. It's as bad as the NHS dental service has
been for years.
The NHS has been moribund for years; kept alive by the
hard work of a relatively small number of genuinely caring staff and by the
hopes of millions of trusting patients. But it's now worse than ever. The NHS is
dangerous to your health.
The real scandal is that everything that is
wrong with the NHS could be cured within hours. Given complete authority for
just one day I could eradicate everything which has damaged the quality of
health care in Britain.
Throwing money at the NHS won't solve any of its
problems. The sick joke is that the NHS already has too much money. What it
lacks is leadership. No one in charge seems to know how money and resources
should be spent.
Here's what needs to be done:
1. GPs were offered
the chance to hand over all their out of hours work to agencies because of EU
laws limiting their working hours. The whole traditional basis of general
practice is that the family doctor takes full 365 day a year responsibility for
his patients. Without that role, GPs have no purpose and could best be replaced
by a combination of walk-in clinics (staffed 24 hours a day) and an enhanced
ambulance service. But I'd prefer to see GPs brought back into the NHS. They
should, however, be given the authority to go with the responsibility.
Solution: Reintroduce 365 day a year, 24 hours a day GP contracts. Fire
any GP who doesn't want to sign up.
2. NHS care and private care need to
be separated. At the moment NHS consultants are allowed to boost their income by
seeing private patients. And NHS hospitals can boost their income by allowing
patients who can afford to pay to jump the queues for tests or surgery. NHS
consultants, using NHS equipment and staff, earn thousands, while waiting lists
for patients who can't afford to pay extra just get longer. Administrators
support this abuse because their hospitals are so bloated with expensive
bureaucrats that they need the private fees too.
Solution: Ban NHS
consultants from doing private work. Ban NHS hospitals from charging patients
for tests or treatment.
3. The NHS has become a bonanza for bureaucrats.
There are more administrators than nurses or hospital beds. More than 60% of NHS
employees are pen pushers. I recently attended a hospital meeting to discuss my
84-year-old mother's health. There were nine people at the meeting. One of them
was a doctor. Eight were administrators. The NHS is being destroyed by
administrators. In many NHS institutions there are now more bureaucrats than
cockroaches. It will, however, be easier to cut down the number of bureaucrats.
When I first qualified in medicine, decent sized hospitals were run (very well)
by a matron, a hospital secretary, two typists and as many ward clerks as there
Solution: Sack 90% of NHS administrators. It probably
doesn't matter which 90%.
4. The NHS is laden with committees, advisors
and quangos. There are thousands of them. The bill for their tea and biscuits
alone would pay for a few thousand more nurses. Any business which tried to cope
with the input from so many amateurs would be a disaster.
rid of all the committees. Let the people who get paid take all the
5. When the NHS buys loo rolls and envelopes it pays
more for them than you or I would pay at our local supermarket. When I exposed
this a few years ago the NHS immediately set up an inquiry - into how I found
Solution: Hire central buyers for all NHS purchases. Sack them all
if they pay more for anything than the price in Tesco.
6. It is absurd
that NHS money is spent on providing couples with fertility treatment, women
with breast enlargement operations or transsexuals with life changing surgery
while thousands of patients are dying because they have to wait weeks for
essential, simple diagnostic X-rays. In military hospital units doctors operate
a simple but effective system whereby those whose need is greatest get seen
first. Similarly, the NHS has to get its priorities straight.
Life saving comes first. Life enhancing should come second.
7. As many
people have found, the NHS complaints system is designed to protect members of
staff rather than offer apologies or justice to justifiably aggrieved patients.
NHS complaints should, from the start, be investigated by entirely independent
Solution: There are thousands of retired doctors and nurses who
could do this job brilliantly well.
None of these problems are
difficult to cure. All of them could be permanently solved in hours.
But, for pretty obvious reasons, no one working for the NHS is going to
recommend any of the obvious solutions. And, without knowing they've got public
support, politicians aren't likely to do any of these things either.
you think these proposals make sense send this page today to your local MP,
demanding that he ask the Government to take action immediately. And ask friends
to read this page. Only when people know what's wrong - and how easy it is to
put things right - will anything change.
Every year, hundreds of
thousands of people die because the NHS is a mess. If we don't act the NHS will
continue to deteriorate. Things are bad enough today. But they will get much,
much worse. You, or a loved one, could be the next one to die unnecessarily.
We need to do what needs to be done now. Tomorrow just isn't soon
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2006
Coleman's books include the international bestseller How To Stop Your Doctor