Friday, 18 June 2010

The NHS Ministry of Truth

Locally the NHS has to save £3 billion over the next three years and the news yesterday showed us how this could be done. The NHS didn't call it "cuts" but preferred "savings". We could spend less and get more. Isn't life wonderful! Whenever I hear news like this I think of George Orwell's 1984 and the Ministry of Truth. It strikes me that I have been hearing these sorts of comments for years but we continue to pay more and more for less and less frontline services.

I was told last week that someone I know was retiring early as a receptionist in the NHS because it takes so long to make appointments. What is the use of technology that allows all the bureaucrats to see what is happening and doesn't allow patients to get appointments in a timely way?

On the BBC news it was mentioned that in the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital they have what looks like vending machines that record the use of pieces of equipment. It seems that every item (they mentioned swabs - swabs!) is registered to a doctor, a patient and a procedure. What sort of 1984 equipment is this? Are we really saying we can't trust our doctors and nurses with swabs? How much did this equipment cost? If we removed it would it save £3 billion over three years?

If you don't trust your professionals then you set up expensive equipment, procedures and management to monitor waste. Then you defend the system and expand it because it works so well and then you get the Ministry of Truth to give out encouraging figures that show improvements and savings.

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